PR simply cannot make up for the mess of the EU Commission

When is a sensation not a sensation? When the European Commission resigns en masse after receiving a damning report on fraud and nepotism within its ranks. Edith Cresson, the most seriously criticised, obviously thinks she has done nothing wrong and may be renominated by the French.

When is a sensation not a sensation? When the European Commission

resigns en masse after receiving a damning report on fraud and nepotism

within its ranks. Edith Cresson, the most seriously criticised,

obviously thinks she has done nothing wrong and may be renominated by

the French.



Commission president Jacques Santer, who proclaimed himself whiter than

white, is now virtually ensured a seat in the Euro-Parliament. Sir Leon

Brittan and Neil Kinnock, the UK commissioners, failed to accept

managerial responsibility for the mess and obviously initially hoped to

be allowed to perpetuate their mismanagement.



The process of replacing the old, tarnished commission with a new one

proceeds on time-honoured lines: Europe is scoured for failed

politicians preparatory to the usual horse-trading to find an acceptable

president.



The rest, good, bad and indifferent,will be placed in their well

upholstered chairs by the nominating member-states. And the unmitigated

mess will continue.



How would you go about restoring the EU’s reputation? More to the point,

is the EU’s Augean stable susceptible to cleansing by PR? I think we

should ask ourselves these questions before the Commission starts

offering telephone-number contracts, paid in euros, of course, to PR

companies to restore its image.



It is true that the EU is better than making war. It has succeeded

brilliantly in avoiding that among traditionally warring nations. It has

helped to promote freer trade, although member states are still horribly

protectionist towards each other and the outside world.



But it is also undemocratic, bureaucratic, endlessly interfering,

profligate, riddled with fraud, utterly pretentious in world affairs and

about as much use in an international crisis - witness the Gulf and the

Balkans - as President Clinton would be in a marriage guidance

clinic.



The EU’s real problem is that it consistently seeks to kid the public

that elected politicians will control the Commission when it has the

power to initiate law-making. It pretends that nation states can be

governed by two parliaments - their own and the Euro-Assembly -

regardless of national pride and interests. And it is now trying to

float a political currency rather than one underpinned by economic

reality as a stepping stone to a single super-state.



No PR can save this institution until it acquires a certain modesty and

recognises that it would do better to build slowly on truly free trade

and effective co-operation between national states with pukka civil

service (not an alternative government in the form of a Commission)

firmly under the control of national governments. Until then, take your

PR contracts if you must - if the French don’t grab them first - but

don’t expect much success.



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