Berlin experts highlight need for more EU communication

At the Berlin Politikkongress, experts such as Hans-Dietrich Genscher and Alistair Campbell explained the mutual influence of the EU and Germany in a changing media landscape.

Alistair Campbell, Tony Blair’s former spokesman, reminded Berlin professionals: “We live in the media age: it is around us all the time.” He expects negative reporting to grow in Germany as it has in the UK.  The famous “spin doctor” also advocated pro-active communication: “There is nothing wrong with politicians trying to shape what the people think. Journalists quoting media commentators are de-legitimising politicians, who are too defensive.”

Former German foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher said that Germany should continue to highlight global responsibility as opposed to national interest, for example by progress on the WTO agenda, which is relevant both to the EU and G8 Presidencies of Germany.

In a separate workshop on the German chancellor’s expectations, most experts expressed hopes for a solution to the Constitution issue but expected business as usual. Dr Jurka, a public affairs consultant, regretted the lack of coverage in the German press but – given the relative strength of Chancellor Merkel among EU leaders – said that Berlin might have more influence on Brussels this time. Michael Stübgen, a member of the Bundestag and European spokesman for the CDU/ CSU, said that a more media-orientated Europe would not necessarily be more attractive. Regarding the German Presidency, he said that “big-picture” topics such as energy and the Constitution are relevant for public opinion but that the real lobbying work would focus on closing proposals that are already in the pipeline.

‘Politikawards’ were also awarded at the Politikkongress, in a number of categories for political communication campaigns, listed below. Christophe Leclercq, publisher of EURACTIV, was a member of the jury. A Lifetime Achievement Award was also presented to Otto Schilly, former lawyer and Green activist who joined the SPD and became interior minister in the Schröder government.

The event on 22 November 2006, organised by Helios, drew around 700 lobbyists, politicians and media experts during the day and more guests for the gala evening. This is as many as the largest Brussels events, except the European Business Summit, and underlines the fast growth of public affairs and political communications in Berlin, still considered a "new capital city".

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