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Sunday, February 18, 2007

RH: Fostering a EU Culture and Identity

From: Robert Ho (ho3@pacific.net.sg)
Subject: RH: Fostering a EU culture and identity
This is the only article in this thread
View: Original Format

Newsgroups: soc.culture.singapore
Date: 2004-06-21 09:28:17 PST


1. I have been in London for a year and a half and the outright
impression is that this is the UK and not the EU. The people, the
surroundings, the media, the UK govt, all don't seem very EU. In fact, the money isn't even EU; it's still the pound. My week in Paris was no better, that is, if you are looking for a EU. So, where is the EU? The truth is, there is no EU to be seen or found. There is nothing physically EU nor in the attitudes, behaviour and minds of the locals.

In short, the EU seems to exist only in some rarefied strata of the
exosphere, meaning the EU institutions in Brussels and that's about
it. In the daily lives of the EU people, the EU doesn't exist. In my
view, if the EU peoples don't feel very EU, they are not going to vote for the new EU Constitution, or any other EU venture, for that matter. They simply won't understand the importance or even relevance of the EU in their lives. There is thus, much work to be done. I have a few suggestions that may help to psychologically foster a sense of
EU-ness. No doubt, a EU Concept Committee tasked with the job of doing these, will achieve a lot more. So, to start off with:


The newspaper in every country or city has the unique ability to
foster a common identity. Its readers share a common awareness of
their country/city, etc, which is the social glue that binds them
together as a common group. Whether it is reading about the latest
football triumph of the home team or the horror of the latest rape and murder, a newspaper dispenses not just news and views but also puts a common language, a common culture, a common awareness into its
readers' minds. These commonalities are the Lego blocks that build a
group and even a society.

If you accept that, then the logical next step is to launch a EU
newspaper/s. It could be free, relying on EU-wide advertisements to
pay its way. It should carry the EU govt's informational requirements, from Ministerial speeches to press releases. It should, like any good newspaper, offer comments on Brussels, to fostering forums on EU issues, thus soliciting suggestions and feedback, which are good for a common EU identity.

The adverts are as important as the editorial content. However, there
is little control over adverts, save only allowing those with a EU

This EU newspaper can also carry other news besides Brussels. Such as
sports news and entertainment gossip, preferably with a EU agenda as
well. It could print regular features on each of the 25 states to
spread more knowledge of each EU state, especially the tourism and
visitor information news.

Necessarily, this EU newspaper must be printed and distributed all
over the EU, which thus requires different language versions but
essentially the SAME editorial content. It may have to start as a
weekly paper instead of a daily, due to circulation, distribution and
logistics reasons. It may have to be co-produced by several large
newspaper publishers and distributed by them. This should not be
difficult with satellite and high-band computer connections, since
almost all newspaper work is done on computers now.

There should also be a related EU News Website.


This is almost exactly the same as for EU newspapers. Almost the
same reasoning applies. To foster a common culture and identity, TV is excellent. This means that each of the 25 EU states must devote a TV channel to a common EU channel. It should be clearly named as a EU
channel and carry strictly EU TV programming, from sports to soaps.

The actors and actresses in the soaps should come from all 25 states
so that all 25 states will have someone from home to watch. All
dialogue will be dubbed in all the different languages.

TV programming will include tourism and visitor information and
experiences in all the 25 states. There should be extensive
programming that shows the sceneries and landscapes and cityscapes of
all 25 countries.


Much of modern living revolves around brands. There should be
efforts to foster EU brands. Once EU brands are created, each with a
strong EU branding, this will naturally appear in TV, radio and poster adverts, which will all form a sense of EU-ness in all 25 states.

What brands?

How about a EU Cola, to rival Coca Cola?

A EU beer?

A EU soda?

A EU cocktail? This can be publicised by having this EU cocktail at
every EU function and having every EU head of state seen drinking it.
Disseminate the recipe widely. A competition can be held amongst
bartenders to create the best EU cocktail. It should come with a
plastic stirrer carrying the EU logo.

A EU sandwich?

A EU burger?

A EU soft toy for children?

The possibilities are limitless.


With TV, Radio and Newspapers promoting EU tourism, there should
be an increase in 'domestic tourism' within the EU. All bureaucratic
red tape should be cut to encourage intra-EU tourism. Travel agencies
should be encouraged to package visits by each of the 25 states to
others. Again, once given the incentives, the private sector travel
agencies will do the job well. The training of language-skilled guides in the tourism spots will help success. Printing of travel brochures and videos, etc, will also help. Free video clips and free photos of all the tourism spots in all 25 states will facilitate such publicity materials. The EU govt in Brussels can start a Tourism Bureau to coordinate all this.

The entry points of airports, seaports and border crossings should all carry standardised signages. For example, a convention can be adopted whereby in all the landing points in all 25 states, the multi-language signs will give firstly, the language of the host state, secondly, the language of the second most common language used, then say, French, German and English.

There should be lots of EU flags and logos everywhere and less
individual country flags.


To create a EU citizen, start in the schools. Have some hours
devoted to the EU each week, in every standard from nursery and
kindergarten to university. Consider a 'Pledge' kind of declaration,
such as "Realising the EU Dream". Students can recite this short
Declaration. Have an Essay Contest every year on this subject
throughout the standards, with the lower standards drawing it in Art
Contest with the higher standards writing Essays.

Have Student Exchanges for older students. Students from all 25 states can visit, live for a while, and study in different states.


Since all 25 states have national football teams, and Euro 2004 is on, sports, especially football, can be used to foster a EU identity. There can be a EU football team, drawn from the best players from all 25 states. Maybe more than 1 team. If it is logistically better to have more teams, there can be a EU Red Team, a EU Blue Team, a EU Green Team, etc. This/These EU team/s can play not only against foreign teams from South America, etc, but also against the national teams. These EU teams can even play each other in a league. Each can even be the basis of a football club.

EU teams in other sports can similarly be put together.


A few EU Laureates can be created, mostly for the most outstanding EU person of each year. Or for the person who has done the most for the EU that year. Almost like a Nobel Prize but with different criteria.

The EU Art Laureate winner, for example, will be invited to spend a
year in any EU state or city of his choice, with generous living and
working conditions, to work on a EU theme of his choosing, expressed
in art pieces.

There can also be a EU Sculpture Laureate, etc. Or a EU Inventor
Laureate. Or a EU Science Laureate.


Art is immediate in its impact and doesn't require language, so is good for a EU of many languages. Music, too, transcends language. So, to start with, there should be a free Internet site for the
downloading of EU music and songs. This should carry music and songs
from all 25 states and should be free to all EU residents for
downloading. The artistes can be paid some other way, either directly
by Brussels or through revenue collected on adverts on the website.

EU music and dance such as ballet could also be promoted. Newer dance
forms such as dance dramas or stories told through dance and music may also become popular. When EU VIPs and dignitaries gather, there could be a premiere of a new dance story, preferably with a EU theme, as entertainment. This would transcend all language barriers since music speaks with an almost universal voice. This could then be put on TV and live theatre, etc.


As a first step to a EU Passport, different states' passports
should carry an identical cover carrying the EU identity large, with a smaller local country identity. Until there is agreement for a common EU Passport, which can then slowly be issued in place of the current passports, Brussels can print a EU Passport Cover which will then be mailed to each passport holder in all 25 countries for placing over their current passports. With this cover, a EU identity can be quickly and cheaply created, until a real EU Passport is agreed. It is now largely symbolic but important especially when used in the EU and even other parts of the world.

Within the EU, incentives can be given for passport holders with the
EU Cover, such as shorter queues at immigration control. In other
parts of the world, if a passport holder has the EU Cover, he is
entitled to free helplines if he gets into trouble. These could
encourage the use of the EU Passport Cover. The free phone helplines
can be printed on the inside of the EU Cover. It will almost be a
Consular Help from a EU Consul.

I have outlined 10 steps to help everyone get started. Once a EU
Concept Committee is set up, more will come. Hopefully, these will
begin to establish a sense of EU identity in all 25 states. If the
Dream of a EU is to be realised, this approach can help.

Robert Ho
21 Jun 04
UK 1727 Singapore 0027