Communicating Defence the European Way

Main takeaways:  

  • The future of European defence lays in the hand of a young European thinking generation.
  • Main problem in making EU security and defence policy easily understandable is the fact, that everything in this regard has always to be communicated on behalf of the 27 Member States which partly have rather different approaches to this topic.
  • An EU perspective is needed which especially journalists have to take on when writing about EU security and defence policy, rather than sticking to their own country’s perspective
  • The EU institutions and the media should focus on a gain-frame. How can EU citizens profit from European security and defence policy and what are the gains for third countries. 
  • Combatting dis and misinformation has become a big part of institutional, journalistic and to a certain extent academic communications.

On 28 April, 2021 YPFP Brussels welcomed three fantastic panelists to discuss the means of communicating European defence. The conversation was moderated by YPFP Security and Defence Officer, Felix M. Hauffe. The panel was comprised of Jüri Laas, Political Administrator at DG RELAX; Teri Schultz, Independent Journalist; and Dr. Tom Powell. The conversation was held under Chatham House rules. Ultimately, cooperation between EU institutions and the media is in need of improvement. The media stresses that most information is being held back, while the institutions criticise the focus on drama and discord between the Member States, rather than on the policies. Academia highlights the fact that a better education about Europe and its policies is needed to provide a solid basis for all EU citizens. In the open discussion, it became clearer that in order for the EU institutions to communicate such delicate topics with a certain degree of substance, the main problem lies within the lack of consensus, noting that all 27 member states need to fully agree on something for it to get distributed by the EU. The media struggle with the fact that most journalists approach these topics by a country perspective rather than seeing the EU as a common actor.

The young generation needs to focus on the EU as a whole when talking about global challenges and security, instead of only their own country’s perspective. That’s how European security and defence policy has a future.

Written by Felix M. Hauffe, Security and Defence Officer, Security and Defence Program, YPFP Brussels.