French politicians criticise media for lack of information about the EU

Quelques élus français à la représentation du Parlement européen, le 26 mai © EURACTIV

French MEPs are reflecting on how EU affairs and information have been treated by the French media during the campaign, especially on TV, EURACTIV France reports.

Gathered at the French representation of the European Parliament on Monday morning, several MEPs criticised the role of the media in the wake of the European elections, marked by the rise of Euroscepticism in France.

“I’m not happy with a number of media,” said Jean -Marie Cavada, a centrist MEP who was a prominent journalist on French television before turning to a political career.

“We have almost no in-depth stories about MEPs’ positions, and who does what in the European Parliament,” regretted Cavada, who was re-elected MEP.

“There are two correspondents in Brussels for France Televisions [the French public broadcaster], it is insufficient, even if Radio France with its 10 correspondents is very present, it is not enough,” he said, adding that he was not making judgments but that he “cannot let the opinion drift away like that.”

This stance had emerged during the Commission candidates’ debate.

>> Read also: French TV will not air EU Commission Presidency debate

The head of the French Socialist European lists, Pervenche Bérès, said it was necessary to initiate a reflection and a debate between the heads of lists and media directors in the French TVs in order to put forward a genuine offer about European information in the news regularly.

Karima Delli, Green MEP, for her part said that French journalists did not challenge Marine Le Pen enough on her statements.

“She was in our committee on social affairs and could table amendments like everyone else, but she did not, and then she pretended she was not able to do it because she had no group in the parliament. That’s false and nobody blames her!”

Centrist MEP, Nathalie Griesbeck was also critical: “Journalists never dispute the inaccuracies and lies from the candidates during the campaign,” she said.

Vicious circle

The French Socialists also point out to a “vicious circle” between Europe and the voters, fueled by the media, which can partly be explained by the lack of understanding of European affairs.

“The conditions for the participation of France in Europe are worrying, it’s obvious but by voting for Eurosceptics, the voters are aggravating the problem. In the upcoming legislature, France will not have much weight in Europe,” Bérès said.

Institutional questions

“There is no way we can avoid questioning information about Europe,” centrist MEP, Robert Rochefort said, adding that there must be a stronger presence on the ground, citing the example of the USA where federal institutions are very present in the states, under different forms, unlike EU institutions.

During the electoral campaign, the French broadcasting council (CSA) often reflected upon the prominence given to the Front National in the media. The party’s press conferences had more success that the Greens or the radical left among journalists and photgraphers.

An independent photographer admitted that “photos of Marine Le Pen sell much better than those of other candidates.”

The European elections took place on 25 May and were marked by the election of 24 Front National MEPs, 21 more than in the previous legislature. The centre-right will have 20 seats, and 13 for the Socialists. The Greens lost ten. The radical left will have only 4 MEPs.

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