Philippe Cayla, a former French civil servant, is president of EuroNews, the multilingual and pan-European television news channel subsidized by the European Union. In an op-ed article in Le Monde (January 1) he speaks of the need for the peoples of Europe to be better informed about Europe, and he makes some sweeping declarations about sovereignty:
Why speak of Europe? Because the history of nations is ending and the history of Europe has hardly begun. National, economic, commercial and financial sovereignty, as well as military sovereignty, no matter what the nations may say, are finished. These renunciations are definitive, irreversible and so much the better.
The youth of Europe do not know, do not want to know, national borders. They travel without a passport, with one currency, using a convenient esperanto - English. They settle down in each other's lands, as in a Spanish inn. Europe is their playground, that is obvious.
Note: A Spanish inn refers to a place where people of all nationalities and beliefs congregate.
But what is lacking in this unity is a consciousness. A consciousness that is self-examining, that makes plans, that is enterprising, that dares. Of course, there is an embryo of this in Brussels, in this miraculously multicultural place where everyone's intelligence is devoted to Europe. On the Right and on the Left, whatever their political stripe, people of good will meet there, unite, and try to advance the European consciousness.
But Brussels is a ghetto, attacked on all sides: by nations, by national political classes, and above all by the national media. In fact, the national media want nothing to do with Europe. Europe threatens them in their intellectual comfort and in their prestige. It interferes with the idea they have of their daily task: to comfort each people with the preconceived notion that its country is the greatest, the most beautiful, the strongest, the most friendly. The others? They are, if not enemies, at least rivals, adversaries, threats.
Coverage of European affairs by the national media is insufficient. It only represents about 5 - 10% of televised news, no more and sometimes even less that the coverage of American news by the same media, and less than the coverage of European affairs by certain non-European media.
This limited information does not permit a true understanding of the important issues that dominate the societies of our neighboring countries. It covers, at best, their current basic political situation: elections, spectacular events, very rarely their social and economic evolution, and even less the ideological stakes linked to regionalism, to religions, to immigration, to civil rights or to ecology....
Each citizen of Europe is over-informed about what is happening in his own country, in his garden, in his eternal nation, and under-informed about what is happening to his European neighbor next door. All the more reason why he cannot grasp the why and wherefore of the decisions made in Brussels that are always the fruit of a laborious compromise between the various priorities of each EU member.
Yes, there is a general agreement amongst communication professionals that Europe does not attract television viewers. But what are they offered? Images of leaders at meetings, handshakes, entrance doors that slam shut, doors that close... All with an obscure editorial content. And yet here is a paradox: nothing is secret in Brussels. Dossiers, negotiations, perspectives, everything is open to the public and to professionals. But this glass house is only too transparent: it lacks flesh, for now it only attracts light. The media couldn't care less about exposés ex cathedra, they want images. Images that speak to the peoples: EU figures who are accessible, human, warm, who speak their language.
He then cites two events: the inauguration of Airbus A 380 and the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. At both ceremonies, EU representatives were present but did not speak.
If they don't see them, if they don't hear them, how can the peoples of Europe accord the leaders of the European Union this media-generated aura which has become, whether one likes it or not, indispensable, not only for public recognition, but for the necessary identification by the citizens of Europe with these leaders? Without European leaders who are clearly known and recognized as the premier personalities of Europe, there is no way to create a European consciousness, there is no feeling, no pro-European empathy, no new European enthusiasm. [élan].
May French diplomacy be the pioneer in this domain, and stir up the battle-lines on the occasion of the upcoming French presidency of Europe. The media will take care of the rest.
I was not able to find a lot of information about Philippe Cayla. Possibly he should get more media coverage too. This bio (in German) says he is an énarque who worked for various French ministries, the French aviation company Matra and French public television.
He seems to be something of a liar when he says that there are no secrets in Brussels, unless he means that everything is out in the open, once it has been secretly decided upon in private committees.