Le Pen confuses student initiative with ‘EU propaganda’

“If you have any further questions about our Team/mission/background, you can always send us a message. We don't bite.” [@WhyEuropeORG/Twitter]

French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has embarrassed herself by attacking a project called WhyEurope, presuming it to be financed with EU money. In fact, WhyEurope is an initiative by a group of students, based on what they call “positive populism”, and has received no funding.

National Front leader Le Pen, who is also an MEP, filed a parliamentary question in the European Parliament on 31 January, asking if the WhyEurope project is funded or otherwise supported by the Commission, and to what extent.

In fact, WhyEurope is a grass-roots initiative by a group of students, mostly German, who decided nearly half a year ago that their generation needed to become more active in times of rising right-wing populist and nationalist movements.

EURACTIV discovered WhyEurope on Twitter in January, puzzled by the freshness of the pro-European messages, in stark contrast to the EU’s usually boring official communications.

Students trial ‘positive populism’ in pro-EU messages

A group of students is running a project revolved around positively communicating the EU. Taking on the populists at their own game, the students are creating and spreading simple, cheeky posts and messages on social media, with a pro-European twist. EURACTIV.com spoke to one of these ‘positive populists’.

Three students came to visit EURACTIV in March and explained their project in a video interview.

WhyEurope: ‘Brexit was the trigger. We had to do something’

Brexit was the trigger for a group of students to start a communication project called WhyEurope, based on what they call “positive populism”. Now they want to use their skills in the lead up to the Dutch and French elections.

In the meantime, Commissioner Günther Oettinger, responsible for the EU budget, answered that the Commission had not funded any organisation by this name. Furthermore, no matching project reference could be identified for the requested period in the central accounting system.

Benedikt Kau, studying in Maastricht, one oft he co-founders of WhyEurope, tweeted that Marine Le Pen “seems to be pissed” by WhyEurope. “In order to piss of even more, we finally launched WhyEurope France,” he wrote on 3 April.

The French version of WhyEurope on Facebook has 941 likes to date.

WhyEurope tweeted yesterday: “If you have any further questions about our Team/mission/background, you can always send us a message. We don’t bite”.

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