FML Blog

Communicating European Politics: a glance at the new Parliamentarians

Thursday, July 10, 2014      Marjolaine Detry      0
A recent article published by our media partners at EurActiv following the May 2014 European elections provides excellent insight into the trend of former journalists from all over Europe who are taking up MEP positions.

The EurActiv article grasps at the possibilities afforded by an influx of this type of expertise into the European Parliament, as they recognize the potential for increased and improved communication with the national populations on a range of European issues. Indeed, it could be argued that these Parliamentarians truly provide a rare opportunity to attract popular support for European politics, especially with regard to the role of the Parliament and its committees. The fact that these media figures already have a popular support base at home stands to enhance the visibility of the European institutions more generally. A topic about which, sadly, many European citizens still remain in the dark.

The Eurobarometer Parlemeter 2012 survey, illustrates the extent of public unawareness of the role of the European Parliament. When respondents were asked about the image of the European Parliament, only 27% indicated that they had a positive view of the Parliament, against 28% with a negative image and 43% with a neutral image. Following on from this, the Eurobarometer survey from 2013 further indicates the disconnect between ordinary citizens and the European Parliament, with only four in ten respondents declaring that they had any interest in the Parliament at all. Thus MEPs crossing the void between media and politics stand to affect these statistics greatly.

 



EurActiv concedes that they have presented a non-exhaustive and primary list of profiles comprising 15 MEPs from eight European countries. So, here at EMMA we have decided to expand this list and provide a more exhaustive accompaniment to these initial profiles. The accompanying visualization therefore indicates the number of MEPs with a media background per country. Countries with zero MEPs coming from a media background are not represented.It is immediately clear that some European countries have a higher number of MEPs with a media background than others. This is especially true for Spain and Italy.

With 12 MEPs coming from a media background in Spain out of a total of 54 seats, 22% of the Spanish MEPs began their careers or studies in the media field. For Italy this figure is 14% of all MEPs. Meanwhile Belgium has four MEPs with a media background. This is striking when we consider that Belgium has 21 seats. Thus 19% of the Belgian MEPs originated or studied in the media field. Furthermore, with three MEPs with a media background out of a total of 13 seats, Finland overtakes Belgium with 23% of the MEPs coming from the media field.

These statistics perhaps indicate that it is not so unusual for journalists or media professionals to turn to politics and European parliamentarianism. Indeed, given the rise of the more Eurosceptic elements following the 2014 elections, it is evident that the very foundations on which the European institutions are built will be challenged over the next five years. Accordingly, MEPs with a background in media will provide a key role throughout these challenges as ambassadors for their countries who are truly in touch with the people. For this reason and many more they will be valuable assets.

EMMA’s list of MEPs with media ties can be seen here (pdf).
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