“The European flag consists of 12 golden stars in a circle on a blue background. The stars symbolise the ideals of unity, solidarity and harmony among the peoples of Europe.
The number of stars has nothing to do with the number of member countries, though the circle is a symbol of unity.”
That is all you get when trying to discover what the flag is about from the official site. Contrast it to your nation of choice’s story. You probably have several versions of your country’s flag as it developed, rich in history and people, wonderful colorful fairytales connected to your past. You probably know this information by heart because you learnt it at school. You probably have some emotional response to your flag.
To anyone in communications or branding, what the European Union is doing is suicidal. While there is much talk about “nation branding” and what individual countries do to themselves or to each other regarding negative press, nobody seems to care about the Union itself. This goes against millenia of wisdom concerning economic and cultural development. According to a summary:
“Images of the EU are split:
the EU as “strategic opportunity” for the partner countries; a trade giant; a
supporter of multilateralism (or at least multipolarism); a model of regional integration; and
a possible counterbalance to US hegemony, a protector of the environment;
an actor whose policy is severely influenced by its own security or
economic concerns; a neo-liberal actor in its external relations; and a protectionist power
(CAP). EU’s self-representation as a solidaristic actor is called into question. Moreover:
Little evidence of the EU being widely seen as a “normative power” exporting
universal values of democracy and human rights.
No evidence of the EU being widely regarded as a social model to be imitated.
No public reward for EU’s development cooperation policy”
The current global economic crisis is focusing on the European Union for good reason; it is easy! Any single sovereign country can deal with an external attack. But in Brussels they decide by…committee. In the worse sense of the phrase. According to Nicholas Moussis in “Access to European Union law, economics, policies” “…the edifice of the European Union is divided horizontally in floors. The floor of the common market was built on the basement of the customs union. Apart from the four fundamental freedoms (free movement of goods, persons, services and capital), the common market floor consists of numerous horizontal and vertical compartments, which contain the common policies…”
At least this author is trying to make it understandable. Because moving from separate countries to any other system is something which citizens of Europe have not quite perceived yet. The task is made harder by politicians in every country using the EU as a scapegoat for their political problems. They used to point to some neighbor or other threat when they needed to rally up support; now they just point to Brussels.
From a communicational point of view it is amazing. We would assume that when you give a handout, you will demand some sort of media attention. If I am bailing out French farmers, the least they can do is put up an EU flag. Even better they should commit to some cultural change towards European integration. Somehow the EU managed to squander its capital (economic and in terms of good will) without getting anything in return. A feat only possible by a committee! In any other human-to-human interaction there would have been more. If the United States were set up as a “melting pot of cultures”, the European Union is set up as a feudal parody. Immigrants entering the US learn about its constitution. In Europe we can’t even manage that.
The film industry is a great example. A variety of Euroinitiatives concerning film making, film distribution and other cultural aspects of film and the results? Absolutely nothing. On average, European don’t watch more locally produced content, nor is European film thriving abroad. We are neither helping Europeans become more aware of their cultural heritage nor telling the rest of the world anything about us. And of course we are nowhere near making it a viable business in any of the country – members. For the size of the internal media consumption market and the depth of talent in this field it is a simply amazing feat of incompetence.
So now we need a Goebbels. I don’t care who runs the ECB, I want to know who is in charge of propaganda.