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THE EU DEBATE: Opening the EU doors to its citizens
THE European Union is a complex and often misunderstood institution but several programmes exist to teach citizens about what is does.
In London, the UK’s European Parliament Information Office runs an education service to provide information and encourage people to engage in their democracy.
The European Parliament also runs its own television service, EuroparlTV, which is scrutinised by two independent companies to help maintain balance. It broadcasts debates, speeches and activities from Brussels and Strasbourg.
Bosses from both services stressed they did not aim to sway people’s opinions, just teach and cover European politics.
An official from the UK office explained: “A democracy is only as strong as the people who engage in it. It is difficult to vote if you do not know what you are voting on and that's why we are trying to reach teachers, students and universities.”
The spokeswoman said challenges faced were the complexity of European politics and general lack of knowledge among teachers.
“Ofsted say it is one of the worst taught subjects,” she added. “People think it is boring and complicated. It can quickly become ugly so we take a themed approach, breaking down teaching about climate change or economics for example.
“Our role is to give information, then it is up to people to decide whether it is a good thing, bad thing or needs changing.”
EuroparlTV director general for communication, Charavgi-Nina Papadoulaki, told The Shuttle: “It is really good to have a simplified way of presenting things. Our goal is to reach all European citizens.
“There are many voices in the European Parliament and we present all of them. If something is happening in Parliament – a debate, vote, speech – we cover it. We want to reach as wide an audience as possible, especially as we approach elections.”
To watch the channel, visit europarltv.eu and for more information on education, visit the website at europarl.org.uk