This article was distributed in the form of a press release dated 16 September 1998, from the Freedom Association. Having read it and acquired a copy by phoning the EU Commission’s office, we share the Freedom Association’s concern that the publication is propaganda rather than educational in content and intent.
It also assumes that changes such as the single currency have already been approved, despite the electorate not yet having been consulted as was promised by the UK government; indeed, what at first might seem a pro-EU but relatively innocuous publication appears on closer scrutiny to indicate some rather unpleasant (even slightly racist) attitudes on the part of its producers, and a heavily political agenda.
Comic it may be, but certainly not funny… without further comment, here is their review.
The European Commission is stepping up its propaganda war to young European schoolchildren with a glossy 29 page comic book in full colour entitled The Raspberry Ice Cream War. It is produced in every official community language. It is subtitled “A comic for young people on a peaceful Europe without frontiers” and produced and distributed by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Information, Communication, Culture and Audiovisual Media. The propaganda follows the Resolution 88/C-177/02 ‘to strengthen in young people a sense of European identity’ and ‘make them aware of the advantages which the community represents’.
The comic, however, may prove to be a step too far. It has apparently caused intense embarrassment at the London office of the European Commission. Despite being provided with 75,000 copies from Brussels they claim to have only distributed ‘about 20 copies’ on request and most of these to MEPs. The rest presumably are gathering dust in their Oxfordshire warehouse.
Why are they so unenthusiastic compared to the rest of Europe? In Austria, for example, the Ministry for Education has decided to send the publication to every school. What is it that the European Commission in London is hoping to keep away from media investigation? Perhaps the brash claim in the comic that “border controls … went out ages ago” when this is certainly not the case for the UK or the Irish Republic and the British Government continues to oppose ending our right to control entry into our country. Perhaps the comic’s claim that “we’re even going to have the same currency soon as well. It’s called the euro”, arrogantly ignoring the fact that this is a contentious issue not even recommended by this Labour administration and hiding both the fact that it would need to be put to a referendum of the British people and that only 11 of the 15 EU states anyway are going ahead on 1 January 1999.
The clear aim of the comic is to contrast the European Union with a Europe in the metaphorical Dark Ages. As one of the characters Paul puts it “Frontiers and barriers everywhere and people fighting wars for the stupidest reasons.That’s exactly what it looks like here. Kind of weird.” Obviously those who are opposed to the European Union are living in the Dark Ages and are “kind of weird”.
In an amazing demonstration of political arrogance and dissimulation the Head of Representation of the European Commission in the UK, Geoffrey Martin, on 10 September condemned Euro-sceptics for their ‘shrill protests’ in a speech to the third annual conference of the UK Network of European Relays. He claimed, in language reminiscent of the old Soviet Union, “…these minority elements are intent upon misleading the public. Their statements and beliefs are based upon a false premise — that the European Commission is brainwashing and pamphleteering. This is nonsense but it is worrying to see how many people are being taken in by the deliberately misleading propaganda, which these bodies are peddling around the country.”
The comic follows a major initiative last year by the European Commission’s London representation. A distribution of the booklet What exactly is Europe was sent to 30,000 schools. It was aimed at 11 to 14 year olds and has been challenged by Freedom Association supporters for its blatant one-sided propaganda. Among the dishonest Orwellian tricks played in it on our children is the claim that in June 1975 the British people voted to stay in the European Community whereas, of course, they voted to stay in the European Economic Community. What’s in a word? Why, just the difference between a common market and national independence.
The children were also told that “In total, every UK citizen pays £1.32 per week to the EU.” This mathematical sleight of hand was performed by pretending that ‘total’ means what we pay less what we get back in services. Using this argument a British government could say we paid no taxes to them at all since the government spent everything they received from ‘us’ on ‘us’. Perhaps children will soon be taught that we pay nothing to the EU. This would be quite ‘correct’ because since we are now all European citizens what ‘we’ pay to the EU is all given back to ‘us’ whether we are Greek or Portuguese.
Although the Department for Education and Employment refused to act over the blatant breach of the 1996 Education Act requiring political impartiality the flak received by the European Commission over its distribution has made its British arm more circumspect.
Phone the European Commission and ask them to send you a copy of the comic.
Telephone : 0171 973 1992.
When you have read it you can take action. Phone or write to the Freedom Association.
Telephone : 0171 928 9925 or 0171 928 9995.
Write to your MEP seeking his/her practical support. The address can be obtained from the European Parliament offices in London.
Telephone : 0171 227 4300.
Write to your MP asking him/her to take up this issue on your behalf.
Write to Mr Marcelino Oreja Aguirre asking him to explain how he justifies his Directorate producing propaganda designed for British children which contains hidden criticism of the British government’s policy concerning the future development of Europe.
Address : Directorate 10, rue de la Loi 200, B-1049 Brussels.
Write to your local paper telling them what is happening and asking that their readers protest.
Raise the issue of EU propaganda at your governors’ meeting or in the staff room if you are a teacher.