The creation of the euro is a priority for the European Union. This central objective for the Commission can only be achieved through effective information and communication actions. 1998 marks the start of a decisive phase for the achievment of Economic and Monetary Union and is consequently also a crucial satge in the communication campaign on the euro. The action of the Commission and of the European Parliament must therefore change both in terms of scale and by focusing on the general public. The objective should be to help citizens understand the reasons that Europe is progressing towards EMU and to raise awareness of the new currency to allow them to use it comfortably and with confidence. With this in mind, the European Union's information campaign, implemented in partnership with the Member States, must be in a position to meet a challenge which affects each european citizen directly. It is vital for the sucess of this historic project.
Information and communication activities on the euro have now been under way for two years, taking a wide variety of forms (conferences, exhibitions, Internet sites, brochures, adoption of the euro symbol, etc.) and involving either the Commission, with the support of the European Parliament, or the Member States or information multipliers. These activities have already borne fruit:
Assessment of the results of these activities provides useful pointers for determining the approach to be taken by the communication strategy for the euro in the years ahead: importance of subsidiarity, of information multipliers and of practical information at grass-roots level.
The period between 2 May 1998 and 1 January 1999 and, thereafter, the period up to 2001 should be used to shift the information effort into a higher gear at a time when the public will be showing a great deal of interest in the euro and will be highly receptive as a result of the institutional environment. A second wave of major coverage should be planned for 2001.
The general public, small and medium-sized enterprises, local and regional authorities and elected representatives, national civil servants and non-member countries are the main targets towards which the information efforts undertaken by the Commission, the Member States and information multipliers should now be directed.
Past experience has shown how difficult it is to devise tools or messages on the euro which are suited to the cultural features and background of different audiences in all Member States. A few broad common principles can nevertheless be identified:
As far as methods are concerned, communication on the euro should be guided by the subsidiarity principle and managed through partnership:
The Commission’s action will, for its part, be organised along the following lines:
If all European citizens are to find, in their daily lives, information which is in tune with their concerns, it is essential that communication activities should give pride of place to decentralised work at grass-roots level.
Lastly, all the available media should be used actively, with special emphasis on radio and television and the Internet, which are particularly effective tools for large-scale communication with the general public.