Peter Blackie, head of the information and communication unit at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Economic and Financial Affairs, said one agency would be hired to handle relations with ‘specialist media’, and another would be appointed to dispense ‘strategic advice’ for the campaign.
Blackie said the EC wanted PR advice on how to promote to the citizens of the new member states, such as Poland and the Czech Republic, the commitment made by their governments to bring in the euro as their currency at a later stage as part of their accession agreements.
The strategic agency will advise on how to convince local populations of the merits of the economic convergence that will be required before adoption of the euro.
Blackie, who is to retire in January, added that the agencies would report to his successor, who is likely to be appointed from internal candidates before February.
The agencies are expected to begin working on the campaigns at around the same time as Blackie’s successor. Blackie said that more than 30 agencies had already expressed an interest in the accounts.
The EC and the European Parliament have provisionally agreed a campaign budget of more than £4.1m, at least half of which will be spent on campaigning in the countries that will join the EU next May. The remainder will be spent on PR and marketing in the current EU member states, with a smaller amount going to communications with international bodies from outside the EU that have shown an interest in adopting a single currency, such as ASEAN and the Gulf Cooperative Council.
This is the first time the EC is bringing in external PR support to advise on the euro.