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Broadcasting sector reform: "Let's get the European Union on TV".

We are on the verge of a major change in the media sector. The draft audiovisual law, which is due to be debated in the French parliament on Wednesday, 26 February, will modernise the French audiovisual sector and make it more ambitious

Digital, regulation, gender equality, protection of groups and support for creativity are among the essential themes at the heart of this reform.

As the British have just left us, the forthcoming law is a unique opportunity to seize an issue too often left in the shadows: Europe. Following the 2019 European elections with record turnout, a new executive has been put in place. In Brussels and Strasbourg, the Commission and Parliament have decided to act together on the issues that we, as citizens, care about: climate, protection, digital.

Strange political geography!

And yet, it has to be said that the vote of investiture of Ursula von der Leyen as President of the European Commission, the first woman to occupy this post, was mentioned for a few seconds in July in the 8 o'clock news on France 2, referring to "news from abroad: in Strasbourg, the European Parliament" ...

Strange political geography! While the vote on the whole college of commissioners was held in November 2019, the channel did not mention it, the same day, neither at 1 pm nor at 8 pm. It is striking that the national newsrooms do not cover the main European news either, even though the permanent correspondents for public broadcasting in Brussels and Strasbourg are of a rare quality.

All of us French people are European citizens. However, there can be no healthy democracy or informed public debate without knowledge of the issues at stake, the actors involved and the policies being pursued.

This is the very reason for the training on environmental issues of the people randomly selected to take part in the Citizen's Climate Convention.

This is also the reason why we regret the deprogramming of several European programmes such as "Avenue de l'Europe" (France 3) or "Le Téléphone sonne Europe" (France Inter), and we welcome the recent launch of "Nous, les Européens" (France 3) and "La Faute à l'Europe? "(France Info). Finally, this is why we affirm the importance of in-depth coverage of European issues in the media. Let us recall the words of Jean Monnet, the father of European construction, for whom "we can never explain enough (...) the progress of the union that our fellow citizens live every day without knowing it" (in Mémoires, Le livre de poche, 2007).

In 2017, three out of four French people said they were poorly informed about European issues (Standard Eurobarometer 88, 2017),  the lowest among the then twenty-eight member states. However, nearly two thirds of those surveyed said they felt they were European citizens (Eurobarometer 88, 2019): this is not a lack of interest or hostile distance that explains this lack of knowledge. On the contrary! 65% of French people would like to see the European Parliament play a more important role (Eurobarometer 92.2, 2019). And if it did indeed play this more important role over the years, as it has done since the Lisbon Treaty in 2009, would our fellow citizens be aware of it? Since only a quarter of them consider themselves to be well informed about Europe, the question deserves to be asked.

The stakes are therefore high for the upcoming bill, when we note, moreover, that only one French person in three trusts television! (Eurobarometer 88, 2017).

The European Union (EU) has just experienced a historic moment, the unprecedented departure of one of its members following a public debate whose limits were recognised by many observers, due to a striking lack of understanding of Europe on the part of British citizens.

The day after the referendum, the question most asked to the UK's Google search engine about Europe was: "What does it mean to leave the EU? ». A slightly late questioning. There can be no informed public debate without knowledge of the issues at stake. Our European citizenship can only be fully exercised with full knowledge of the facts.

Involving citizens' agoras in the debate

This year 2020 will also see the Conference for the Future of Europe, an idea that France has carried forward and that the EU has taken up. The objective? To make the European project more democratic. The method? Involving citizens' agoras in the debate on the direction the EU should take after Brexit. This initiative is an opportunity. But it is only likely to be effective if the media play their full role, both in providing quality information and in stimulating an in-depth debate on Europe.

We therefore call, through this op-ed piece, for a better inclusion of European issues in the French media - starting with public broadcasting, whose public service remit honours and obliges it

European citizenship is already a legal and democratic reality: it is time to make it an informative reality. European decisions are taken by the European Parliament, by our national ministers meeting in the Council. EU guidelines are decided by our Heads of State and Government. European policies are conducted by a Commission headed by Frenchman Thierry Breton and staffed by several thousand of our compatriots. Let's put the EU on TV: Europe is our business.

Find the op-ed piece on the Le Monde website  with the list of signatories: Yves Bertoncini, President of the European Movement - France ; Jean-Louis Bourlanges, MP for Hauts-de-Seine (MoDem), former MEP ; Gilles Boyer, MEP (independent) ; Sylvie Brunet, MEP (Mouvement démocrate) ; Martine Buron, President of Fédération française des Maisons de l’Europe ; Marie Caillaud, President of « Les Jeunes Européens – France » ; Pascal Canfin, MEP (Renaissance), former Minister ; Catherine Chabaud, MEP (Mouvement Démocrate) ; Ilana Cicurel, MEP (Renaissance) ; Jérémy Decerle, MEP (Renaissance) ; Bernard Deflesselles, MP for Bouches-du-Rhône (LR) ; Pascal Durand, MEP (Renaissance) ; Jean-Dominique Giuliani, President of Fondation Robert-Schuman ; Laurence Farreng, MEP (Mouvement démocrate) ; Sandro Gozi, MEP (Renaissance), former Secretary of State for European Affairs of the Italian Government ; Christophe Grudler, MEP (Mouvement démocrate) ; Bernard Guetta, MEP (Renaissance) ; Valérie Hayer, MEP (LRM) ; Caroline Janvier, MP for Loiret (LRM) ; Pierre Karleskind, MEP (LRM) ; Jean-Christophe Lagarde, MP for Seine-Saint-Denis (UDI) ; Catherine Lalumiere, President of Maison de l’Europe de Paris, former Secretary General of the Council of Europe, former Vice-President of the European Parliament ; Alain Lamassoure, Chairman of the Scientific Committee of the Robert Schuman Foundation, former Minister, former MEP ; Pascal Lamy, President Emeritus of the Institut Jacques-Delors, President of the Paris Peace Forum, former European Commissioner, former Director-General of the World Trade Organisation ; Enrico Letta, President of the Jacques-Delors Institute, former President of the Italian Council, former MEP ; Nathalie Loiseau, MEP (LRM), former Minister ; Martine Meheut, President of « Citoyennes pour l’Europe » Joaquim Pueyo, MP for Orne (Socialiste et apparenté) ; Pierre-Alain Raphan, MP for Essonne (LRM) ; Dominique Riquet, MEP (Mouvement radical social-libéral) ; Sabine Thillaye, MP (non attached), Chairwoman of the European Affairs Committee of the National Assembly ; Dominique Potier, MP for Meurthe-et-Moselle (Socialiste et apparenté) ; Stéphane Séjourné, MEP (LRM) ; Irène Tolleret, MEP (Renaissance) ; Véronique Trillet-Lenoir, MEP (Renaissance) ; Marie-Pierre Vedrenne, MEP, former director of the Maison de l'Europe in Rennes (Mouvement démocrate) ; Stéphanie Yon-Courtin, MEP (Renaissance) ; Chrysoula Zacharopoulou, MEP (LRM).

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