Communication of the European Union with the European Citizens
(project completed in 2012, turned into a consortium research)
Research question or educational challenge
- Communication of the EU with its citizens: success or failure? [descriptive research on the differences between EU communication in the member countries and explanatory research to test some of the most well known communication theories in an international context].
- Assessment of the contribution by EU-communication to the sense of European Citizenship in the EU announced context of 2013 ‘Year of the European Citizen’.
- To provide an opportunity for students/ researchers to perform common research at Bachelors/ Masters and PhD level on European Communication.
Goals of the project
- to assess through comparative research the EU communication practices with its citizens (both on the aspects of subjects covered by the European Commission and on the side of European Citizenship.)
- to test (strategic) communication theories in a European multi-cultural context
- to further academic cooperation in applied communication research Europe-wide and
- to build a Europe-wide network of communication researchers in an applied context
- to be able – eventually – to advise the European Union in its communication challenges on European Citizenship.
The (local and overall) results are fed back into educational programs, as has already been done in Preston, Twente, Utrecht and Warsaw.
A) Unfortunately we have been informed August 2010 that our project would not be chosen for an FP7 Grant by CEPLIS. In general for two major reasons:
- The interest of DG Research is more on pure sciences than on applied science. Some reviewers indicated the specific political and sociological aspects in the topic. Our project has not been recognized as a mixture of both: applied communication in the context of political and sociological theories. We definitely will have to explain things more extensively. This will be done by starting from the end point, the target variable, which is European Citizenship. The message content and the channels to be researched are the explanatory variables. The message content will be subdivided into three distinguishable communication types: 1. Informational Communication, 2. Transactional Communication, and 3. Transformational Communication. The channels into direct routes (the EU media), and indirect routes (classic media, social media, intermediary frameworks). Discussions will be held in a round table setting as to the proper (generally acceptable) definitions of the concepts Public Relations, Public Affairs, and Public Diplomacy.
- In the new setting of an SSH application – we plan to reply on the 2012/5 Call on European Citizenship - we can properly operate as a consortium. The ‘pen’ of the consortium will be at the HU University of Applied Sciences. The European territory should be managed from two centres: 1. Northern Europe, Utrecht, dr. H.J.C. Rebel; 2. Southern Europe (vacancy).
B) At the Bled conference (July 2-3, 2010) we presented the whole project with presentations by Noemi Brousmiche (Utrecht/Lancashire), Julia Jahansoozi (Stirling) and Alenka Jelen (Preston) and Henk-Jan Rebel (Utrecht). Ansgar Zerfass (Leipzig) presented his critical remarks on the presentations. That is a form which we want to continue in the future: presentations and critical comments. As soon as several Lancashire students like Noemi - who have recently written their masters dissertation on a topic in this domain - will receive a clearance, summaries of their work will be published on the website, including hyperlinks to the full text. They look promising.
Moreover, two Rumanian students will probably do the same and new masters students in Preston have indicated their plans to write a masters thesis next year on a European subject. In the Netherlands (Paul Linders) and Belgium (Bruno Neuville) a cooperation is forged between Utrecht and Mechelen on research by bachelors students supervised by staff members. Presently a mixed team of Belgian and Dutch students are researching the role of DGEcho in the direct communication from the EU; they build forth on previous research by Dutch students on the EU website and on the masters study by Noemi Brousmiche on the intermediaries of DGEcho.
C) Early October 2010 Henk-Jan Rebel opened the academic year in Warsaw (at the P.R. institute) on the invitation by prof. dr. Józef Nitznik. His public lecture titled ‘PR-models, reception, interpretation and dissemination in Europe’ (to be ordered from the author) will be the first part of a theoretical introduction to European Communication, that will form the introductory chapter of a study edited by Julia Jahansoozi, Alenka Jelen and Henk-Jan Rebel on the first results of the consortium research.
D) The whole project can be followed on the website which is up and running: www.eucommunicationplaza.org and anyone from a university background interested can apply for membership with Henk-Jan Rebel (for the time being), as the former webmaster Ingeborg Smit has left university for a commercial advisory bureau.
- Constituting document with theories, methodologies en first results of explorative research in the Netherlands (September 2009)
- Formal start of the project team in the fringe of the EUPRERA Spring Conference (February 27, 2010 in Ghent); launching the website
- Application for a European SSH-2012/5 project (deadline end of November, 2012)
- Formal start of the project: September 2010
- a. Twice a year a contribution to a EUPRERA conference
b. Meetings in between with members of the project group and guest lectures
c. Results (at all academic levels) during the time-period made available to all partners on the website.
- Organisation of an in between conference (Warsaw).
Project team members
- Dr. Paul Linders, Utrecht University of Applied Sciences, The Netherlands
- Ingeborg Smit, Utrecht University of Applied Sciences, The Netherlands
- Prof. Dr. Alina Bargaoanu, University of Political and Administrative Science Bucarest, Romania
- Prof. Dr. Ansgar Zerfass, University of Leipzig, Germany
- Prof. Dr. Dejan Vercic, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
- Prof. Bruno Neuville, Lessius University College Malines
- Alenka Jelen, University of Central Lancashire Preston, UK
- University of Latvia Riga
- Julia Jahansoozi, PhD, University of Stirlin, UK
- HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht
- Prof. Dr. Jozef Niznik, University of Warsa, Poland
- Prof. Dr. Jordi Xifra, University of Barcelona, Spain
Contacts have been made with universities in: