On the last Wednesday, took place a moment event at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. The European Commission President delivered the traditional State of the Union address in which he came back on the crisis and also the upcoming challenges for the Members States and the European integration. Among the main points of his speech, Jose Manuel Barroso announced the publication of a report aiming at reinforcing the Economic and Monetary Union and spoke in favour of a change of direction for Europe, dealing with a “federation of Nation-States”, that was quite new for a President of the Commission not really reputed to be a federalist.
This address was expected in this time of crisis in the Eurozone and in the European integration. Indeed, at the moment, euro-scepticism is stronger and stronger within the Union, the Barroso’s declaration seems to be as audacious and interesting, confirming federalism as something trendy within some European leaders. Nonetheless, the position of the former Portugal Prime minister (2002 to 2004) is quasi-unnoticed, to the great displeasure of some, as Fabien Cazenave who even was very severe with the French media on his blog.
The French blogger and pro-European activist’s wrath is logical and understandable insofar as neither French TV channel, nor Radio station, considered as useful to comment the Barroso’s address, to broadcast it in live, or to deal with the piece of information on their respective TV news. Faced to the release of the new I-Phone 5 and other stories, the address of the State of the European Union experienced a strong concurrence and could hardly fight. But such an attitude of the French media and other nonstop news channels (except Euronews) give the impression once again the European news is still a middle-distance and it touched a tiny part of citizens, euro-sceptics as euro-romantic.
In spite of all, if such a wrath is legitimistic, it should not be surprising because of the already weak treatment of news in the French media (and maybe in the rest of Europe). For instance, if France Télévisions (the French public television) regularly covers the EU and its members-states, the private and most watched TV channel in France and Europe (for the audience ratings and the television-viewers) prefers to envoy reporters from Lille to cover the European Council instead of a permanent correspondent at Brussels.
If it is the duty of the media (TV mainly) to deal with such a piece of information (especially when it is important), it is needed to notice the State of the Union address is still little known insofar as it is quite recent. Indeed, such an exercise has only existed since 2010 and is still not in the mind of citizens contrary to the US version of the State of the Union address which, through decades, has become a real institution and a genuine political moment. In other words, some moment will be needed to the State of the European Union address become a habit for Europeans and for the media first. Nevertheless, they have to play their relay role to guarantee debate between European and national citizens, sine qua none condition to not fall in euro-scepticism and worse in euro-indifference.
As explains Fabien Cazenave on his blog, “considering as a scandal the fact not to deal with the José Manuel Barroso’s address is not a pro-European’s caprice. The President of the European Commission’s speech is important and must allow a debate. Euro-sceptics, pro-Europeans and federalists must not be the only people to be informed by this address. Moreover, it was solemnly made in front of the citizens’ representatives”. It is needed, even obvious, the President of Commission’s speech would have deserved more media coverage, especially at the moment the distrust of citizens vis-à-vis the EU remains strong. In spite of all and the quasi-general indifference, the 2012 State of the Union address was important and especially useful in the current debates shaking the European integration and its rulers.
PS : you can follow and review the 2012 State of the Union address, with the video just below.