Bruton sets out Irish strategy for leading EU

John Bruton, the Irish Prime Minister, is launching a new marketing strategy for an old product. The product is called "Europe" and Mr Bruton knows it is going to be a hard sell.

Consumer confidence in the product has been ebbing of late. "Most people haven't a clue what Europe is trying to achieve," Mr Bruton told journalists as he set out Ireland's programme for its six-month rolling European Union presidency, which starts today.

It is vital , he said, to "bridge the gap" between the leadership of the EU and its citizens. Mr Bruton conceded that the task would be long and hard. But he announced a new slogan as the centrepiece of his campaign: "Secure peace, safe streets, solid money and secure jobs." His new theme is "memorability", because "people can only recall four things at once.

The question is whether Mr Bruton's campaign strategy for Europe contains anything new. Ireland takes over the presidency of the EU at a testing time. Just a week ago Europe's heads of government were desperately trying to patch over divisions caused by the beef war, and it will be Ireland's aim to ensure that the aftershocks of the crisis do not continue to undermine progress on Europe's bigger projects.

By December, Mr Bruton hopes that member states will have agreed a draft treaty on how to rebuild Europe's institutions in the negotiations of the inter-governmental conference (IGC). The Irish also expect to preside over the first serious estimates of which countries will be ready to join European Monetary Union. In December member states will produce their own economic forecasts for 1997, thereby indicating whether they expect to meet the Maastricht criteria to qualify for the launch in January 1999.

While steering Europe's engine of integration steadily onwards, Mr Bruton has chosen the additional role of bringing the aims of the Union back into focus for its citizens. His strategy may be glossier and snappier, but its message appears to contain little that is new.

"Secure peace" is a slogan which will have little meaning for most Europeans, whose closest experience of war in recent times has been the conflict in the former Yugoslavia which the EU was unable to avert. "Safe streets" is intended to inspire the citizens with confidence that the EU is now playing a prime role in combating drugs and international crime. But promises of a new "war on drugs" are likely to ring hollow when the debate reverts to an arcane institutional wrangle over how to give the Brussels institutions more power over justice and home affairs.

"Solid money" is a slogan which attempts to boost confidence in the coming of the euro. But European citizens so far remain unconvinced of the euro's "solidity" and are unlikely to be won over without more convincing proof of the benefits of the single currency. "Secure jobs" is a slogan which has been shouted from the European rooftops for many years. Every EU summit in recent times has been presented as a "summit for jobs".

Mr Bruton concedes that the slogan is little more than an attempt to focus Europe's values, and does not offer any meaningful answers to the problems of unemployment. He hopes that a new chapter on employment will be inserted into Europe's new treaty during the IGC. But he said last week: "I cannot think of anything which we cannot already do under existing EU law on employment. But we need new political focus."

Ireland is well-positioned to be the country promoting new confidence in the European Union. It likes to boast that it is the most enthusiastic country about Europe in the Union. The causes of this enthusiasm lie all around, as signs pop up proclaiming that roads, bridges and factories have been built thanks to EU regional aid fund.

European Union membership is partly the cause for Ireland's successful economy which is likely to steer it towards membership of the first wave of countries in the single currency. However, even the Irish may not be entirely convinced by Mr Bruton's new campaign.

On the horizon looms the prospect of the enlargement of the Union, whereby Eastern European countries will be given membership, expanding the union to up to 27 members. Ireland can only lose during this process, as the EU cake is carved up once again and funds flow out to the poorer cousins to the East.

Over the next six months the Irish presidency will battle to shore up the rights of smaller countries when the process of enlargement gets under way. But all the signs are that regaining popular confidence in the European product is set to get harder. Mr Bruton's hard-hitting slogans seem unlikely to be enough.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
News
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Sport
Robbie Savage will not face a driving ban
football'Mr Marmite' faced the possibility of a 28-day ban
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Voices
voices
Life and Style
Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries were putting themselves at risk of tinnitus and, in extreme cases, irreversible hearing loss
health Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries are at risk of tinnitus
News
It was only when he left his post Tony Blair's director of communications that Alastair Campbell has published books
people The most notorious spin doctor in UK politics has reinvented himself
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in ‘I Am Michael’
filmJustin Kelly's latest film tells the story of a man who 'healed' his homosexuality and turned to God
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower