It has been reported that confidential spending proposals and internal documents planning an unprecedented propaganda blitz ahead of and during European elections in June 2014. – daily alternative news
Key to a new strategy will be “public opinion monitoring tools” to “identify at an early stage whether debates of political nature among followers in social media and blogs have the potential to attract media and citizens’ interest”.
Spending on “qualitative media analysis” is to be increased by £1.7 million and while most of the money is to be found in existing budgets an additional £787,000 will be need to be raised next year despite calls for EU spending to reflect national austerity.
“Particular attention needs to be paid to the countries that have experienced a surge in Euroscepticism,” said a confidential document agreed last year.
“Parliament’s institutional communicators must have the ability to monitor public conversation and sentiment on the ground and in real time, to understand ‘trending topics’ and have the capacity to react quickly, in a targeted and relevant manner, to join in and influence the conversation, for example, by providing facts and figures to deconstructing myths.”
Training for parliament officials begins later this month.
Paul Nuttall, UKIP’s deputy leader, has attacked the proposals, which he said, violate the neutrality of the EU civil service by turning officials into a “troll patrol”, stalking the internet to make unwanted and provocative political contributions in social media debates.
“Spending over a million pounds for EU public servants to become Twitter trolls in office hours is wasteful and truly ridiculous,” he said.
“It strikes me as bizarre that the EU administration is playing such an explicitly political role with a brief to target Eurosceptics – that’s code for parties like Ukip, and this is hardly neutral.”
A confidential document discussed by officials last week appears to acknowledge problems by admitting that “there are fine lines separating institutional and political communication”.
Parliament officials declined to comment on the confidential documents and ongoing private discussions within the EU assmbly’s administration.
A confidential document entitled “political guidelines for the institutional information and communication campaign” was agreed by the parliament’s administrative “bureau” last July.
The text highlights a “sharp contrast” between “growing perception of endangered welfare, rising insecurity and financial instability” and EU promises to guarantee “freedom, security and social justice with a prosperous internal market”.
“The current economic and financial crisis together with high rates of unemployment, particularly among young people, is resulting in diminished trust in European institutions by citizens… it is evident that the EU’s image is suffering,” the document said.
“In order to reverse the perception that ‘Europe is the problem’, we need to communicate that the answer to existing challenges… is ‘more Europe’ not ‘less Europe’.”
dailyalternative | alternative news – EU to set up euro-election ‘troll patrol’ to tackle Eurosceptic surge