6 December 2005

EU strategy on improving the communication with its citizens

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About two months ago, I complained in this blog about the fact that i2010, the EU’s website on digital inclusion and participation, was about the opposite of accessibility and inclusivity.

I sent the same message to the cabinet of the EU Commissioner in charge of Institutional Relations and Communications Strategy and yesterday I received a very thoughtful and to-the-point answer. I have nothing but praise for such willingness to provide personalised feedback to issues raised by EU citizens.

In the end, this approach will help raise the EU’s public profile, because people will share such positive experiences. I sincerely wish this EU team all the best in improving their communications and implement standardised guidelines.

The i2010 website has unfortunately not changed at all and remains an examples of how not be accessible and inclusive.

Below is the email from Rolf Annerberg, Head of Cabinet of Vice-President Margot Wallström, that I post here with his permission:

Dear Mr. Vanderbeeken,

Thank you for your message that you emailed to us on the 5th November.

I fully agree with you that much needs to be done to improve the European Union’s institutional communication with citizens.

Indeed the awareness that EU communication with citizens needs to be improved led the Barroso Commission to tackle this issue since it came into office a year ago and for the first time the Commission has elected a Vice President, Margot Wallström, to be responsible inter alia, for Communication.

On her initiative the Commission adopted on 20th July last an Action Plan on improving communicating Europe. You will find the full text of this action plan (cf. document SEC(2005)985) on EUROPA, the official website of the EU institutions, at: http://europa.eu.int/comm/dgs/press_communication/index_en.htm).

This action plan lists some 50 concrete measures which, based on three major principles: listening, communicating and connecting with citizens by “going local”, are currently being taken.

The overall aim of the Action Plan is to bring about a new, more citizen-oriented approach to communication throughout all Commission departments and to make sure that communication on the intentions of the Commission is fully integrated from the very start of the legislative process and throughout other Commission actions. And amongst the various actions listed in the Plan you will see the Commission’s commitment to communicate using a more user friendly language.

With regard to your comments on brand and communications consistency, I agree that this is an important challenge. In this context, standardised guidelines for internet communication have been established. These rules, that are currently being updated, are incorporated in what we call the Information Providers’ Guide (IPG).

Although we still have a long way to go, I am confident that, with the step-by-step approach so characteristic for European integration, we will be able to improve communications with citizens, also and not in the least thanks to the very useful and constructive feedback from people like yourself.

Yours sincerely,
Rolf Annerberg

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