Wallström wants EU public opinion observatory

At a stakeholder conference in Madrid on 27 October, Commission Vice-President Margot Wallström underlined the need for more public-opinion research. She advocated the establishment of a new independent observatory for European Public Opinion.

European opinion polls and surveys such as the Eurobarometer are important instruments for politicians to feel the pulse of the emerging European public opinion – that was the main message of a stakeholder conference held in the context of the Commission’s White Paper on Communication Policy. The first of five such meetings took place in Madrid on 27 October 2006 and brough together experts and specialists on public opinion research.

During the conference, Margot Wallström repeated a suggestion already made in the White Paper, to set up an independent Observatory of European Public Opinion to improve media coverage and design of the EU’s polls andprovide better analysis of the results.

The Observatory could be a new physical agency with permanent staff or a network of national experts that would meet at regular intervals.

The European Parliament’s Culture Committee is none-too enthusiastic about the new Observatory, however. In a report for the Committee, rapporteur Luis Herrero-Tejedor questioned the setting up of a new structure and demanded that more “co-ordinated use should be made of the data and resources already available”. Herrero’s report will go through first reading in the plenary of the Parliament on 16 November.

The next White Paper stakeholder conference will be held on 9-10 November in Bergamo, Italy. 

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