Public Sector: Euro Parliament backs campaign

The European Parliament's UK office this week defended its promotional work following accusations of pro-constitutional propaganda.

The Strasbourg-based parliament last week unveiled a £6m campaign to teach Europeans about the contents of its constitution, but the move prompted fierce criticism from opposition MEPs such as Den Dover, Conservative MEP for North-West England.

Critics such as Dover claim the campaign is designed to encourage a 'yes' vote in the UK's forthcoming referendum on the treaty, currently scheduled for some time during 2006.

But European Parliament UK office director Dermot Scott told PRWeek: 'We are not selling ideas. We are a minimalist organisation mostly operating in a reactive mode.'

The parliament's UK office has been handed around £80,000 of the £6m budget - but Scott said it was not yet known how much of that cash would now be used.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office this week reaffirmed its commitment to its Geronimo-backed campaign to communicate the benefits of EU membership.

Geronimo was hired two months ago (PRWeek, 21 January).

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw had urged Strasbourg not to intervene in Britain, fearing a campaign to promote the constitution could backfire.

'We do not see our operation as being in conflict with the desires of Government,' said Scott.

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