Germany: Criticism of ‘Ich Will Europa’ Campaign

This post is part of our special coverage Europe in Crisis.

For some time now, citizens have become familiar with reports of crisis with the Eurozone and the European Union. Considering the oft-presented doomsday scenarios, it’s almost surprising that the Eurozone still contains 17 member states and the citizens of crisis-ravaged Greece still pay in Euros.

Eleven foundations in Germany – partners in the coalition ‘Engaged Europeans‘ – have set their sights on presenting Europe in a positive light to counter these negative voices. The campaign ‘Ich will Europa‘ (I Want Europe) attempts to showcase the advantages of Europe, and it has managed to get several prominent Germans from politics, sports, culture and society spheres to promote the pros of European integration. German President Joachim Gauck is the campaign's patron.

Ich will Europa tries to achieve this goal though conventional as well as social media. Yet a look at social media clearly shows that it isn't getting an exclusively positive reception. Critical comments are amassing on the Ich will Europa [de] Facebook page complaining about a technocratic, undemocratic, distant-from-the-citizen European Union (EU).

On Twitter there are also numerous negative voices: Emmanuel Goldstein expressed the popular admonition that Europe and the EU should not be equated with the Euro:

Screenshot from the website

Screenshot from the website

@Silberstreiff: Der Euro hat nichts mit der europäischen Vielfalt zu tun, die gab es vorher auch schon !!#ichwilleuropa

@Silberstreiff: The Euro has nothing to do with European diversity. It was already there before!! #ichwilleuropa

Daniel Rhinow complains about how out of touch the EU is with its citizens:

@DanielRhinow: #IchwillEuropa Ja,aber es soll ein Europa der föderalen Vielfalt sein, ein Europa von Marktwirtschaft und Demokratie, ein Europa der Bürger.

@DanielRhinow: #IchwillEuropa Yes, but it should be a Europe of federal diversity, a Europe of market economy and democracy, a Europe of citizens.

Twitter user @kosmopolit even registered under the name @ichwilleuropa, because the initiators of the campaign apparently failed to enter into the discussion via Twitter:

@kosmopolit: so habe jetzt ‪@ichwilleuropa registriert. Mal schauen wie lange die Kampagne für eine email braucht. Was sollen wir twittern? #ichwilleuropa

@kosmopolit: So, I've just registered @ichwilleuropa. We'll see how long the campaign needs to send an email. What should we tweet? #ichwilleuropa

Bernd Huettemann makes fun of this oversight on Twitter:

@huettemann: #ff @MercatorDE @BoschStiftung @Blumberry for courage to start #ichwilleuropa campaign without twitter & @ichwilleuropa for doing it 4 them

There are also positive reactions on Twitter, but they are mostly on the short side, like the one by Michael Timm:

@michael_thim: Ich will #Europa. #ichwilleuropa

Blogger Eric B. [de] accuses the campaign “Ich Will Europa” of equating Europe with the EU and takes a very negative stance on this video [de] with an address by German Chancellor Merkel:

Daneben ist vor allem das Merkel-Video, das einen beim ersten Klick auf die Homepage anfällt (siehe oben). Daneben ist auch der Spruch, denn die EU ist nicht Europa, und die Eurozone schon gar nichta. Daneben ist schließlich das Timing: Die Initiative legt genau an dem Tag los, da Merkels Regierung die Weichen für einen Rausschmiss Griechenlands stellt (auch wenn die Kanzlerin das Gegenteil behauptet).

First and foremost, the Merkel video that pops up with the first click on the website (see above) is off the mark. And then the wording is off the mark too, because the EU isn't Europe, and it certainly isn't the Eurozone. And lastly, the timing is off the mark: the initiative begins on precisely on the day that Merkel's government shows a softer stance towards kicking out Greece (even if the Chancellor claims the opposite.)

On the blog Die freie Welt [de] Beatrix von Storch writes:

EUROPA braucht keine Werbemillionen. EUROPA hat kein Akzeptanzproblem. EUROPA ist in bester Ordnung. EUROPA- das sind etwa 50 Staaten. 27 davon sind in der EU. Und 17 davon leisten sich den Euro. Und diese 17 haben ein Problem. 17 von 50.  Das ist nicht EUROPA!

EUROPE doesn't need millions of promoters. EUROPE has no problem of acceptance. EUROPE is on top form. EUROPE – that's about 50 states. 27 of those are in the EU. And 17 of these have the Euro. And these 17 have a problem. 17 of 50. That is not EUROPE!

Ich will Europa is being supported by numerous big media outlets. Some very high-quality videos have been produced which can be viewed on YouTube [de]. As the commentary on YouTube, Facebok and Twitter show, the campaign is experiencing a lot of headwind in social media. Many appear not to want to equate the Eurozone or the entire current EU with Europe in general.

This post is part of our special coverage Europe in Crisis.

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