If we look at the European communication history, we see a crucial moment: the referendum of 1992, when the Danish rejected the Maastricht Treaty. They will finally provide their approval next year, after the government negotiated several sectorial amendments, especially in the field of justice and home affairs, but also in terms of defense cooperation.
In 2001 we witnessed the "first Irish NO" when they rejected by referendum the Treaty of Nice. A year later, after a second referendum, the Irish ratified the Treaty, having received guarantees from several EU Member States.
The 2004 European Parliament elections stressed the worsening lack of interest of citizens for EU policies, the turnout being only 45.47%. The Commission Barroso I, in office between 2004 and 2009, responded by appointing a new Commissioner for Communication, which was filled by the former Environment Commissioner Margot Wallström.
EU leaders were shocked by the double rejection of the European Constitution, following referendums in France and the Netherlands organized the 2005. Ratification process reached an impasse, and in June 2005, EU leaders decided to start a "period of reflection" before deciding where to turn after this crisis.
On 12 June 2008, Ireland votes “NO” in the referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. Irish voters rejected the Union's entire political class with a resounding “NO” project addressed the Lisbon Treaty; the EU was thrown in another political crisis.
Again, the 2009 elections for the European Parliament highlighted a continued growth of the lack of interest of citizens for EU policies, with only 43.08% of voters in elections.
After eight years of struggle and turmoil, the EU “reform treaty”, the Treaty of Lisbon, entered into force on 1 December 2009. EU leaders believe that the Lisbon Treaty will refresh decision-making processes in the European institutions, contributing to the functioning of a more effective and democratic European Union of 27 countries (now 28).
Barroso continues to be the head of the European Commission for a second term, and decides after 2009, that a dedicated Commissioner, responsible only for communication, is counter-productive. Therefore the portfolio for communication is transferred to his left hand, and one of his most trusted allies, Viviane Reding, who already a comprehensive portfolio including justice, citizenship and fundamental rights.
Dan LUCA / Brussels
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