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Wednesday, 18 July 2012 21:00

Beyond the yellow leotard

In March, E&M wrote an open letter to the Director General for Enlargement, protesting against an official promotional video which was supposed to encourage young people to support EU enlargement. We wrote the letter together with www.die-euros.de out of a sense of embarrassment: we felt that the video underlined racial stereotypes and implied that all threats to European unity come from the outside. The DG Enlargement said (and still says) that the video was meant to communicate with young people who don't already know a lot about the EU, and who will recognise and respond to references to video games and martial arts films.

You can read the response we received from Director General for Enlargement, Stefano Sannino, here

So what should the DG Enlargement have spent its money on, instead of a glossy martial arts video? In his response, Mr Sannino invited us to give him our suggestions, saying: "tell us what you would like to know about EU enlargement and how you would like to receive the information. We will be happy to discuss your ideas together with you."

E&M Magazine is not affiliated with the European Commission, and nor is it our job to help the Commission with PR. But we asked our authors what they would have liked to see rather than the triumph of twelve identical women in yellow leotards. Here are a few of their ideas.

1. no need to bring a passport

For most of us, EU-membership does not mean the ability to defeat aggressive samurai-wielding men. It has concrete, everyday benefits, and that's what we want to hear more about. Currently, Ukrainians often have to wait hours before crossing the Polish border, for example. Why not create videos showing how easy it is to cross borders within the EU, or how consumer law helps keep trade secure and fair? A video could follow a group of young people interrailing around Europe, or going off to study in other European countries.

2. Tell us a true story

How have real young people benefited from the Common Agricultural Policy (even if they don't know it?) How have individuals been affected by consumer law or EU funding for local development? We'd like to hear some true stories. The American project StoryCorps has been collecting recordings of real life stories for years - the format is generally an interview in which people ask each other about their experiences. Why not ask a young person from a candidate country to interview someone from a member country about their everyday life, and how it has changed since their country joined the EU? Animated videos of interviews could be more fun to watch than classic head-shots.

The recent "Science: It's a Girl Thing" campaign by the Directorate General for Research and Innovation has shown that true stories work best: while the barely-relevant video of three girls dancing around in high heels created so much outrage that it had to be withdrawn, the interviews with role model scientists are a great way for young women to find out what scientists actually do all day and what a lab looks like!

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