A leaked internal strategy note to senior MEPs warns the the EU is at stake and insists “Europe’s future will be shaped by the 2019 elections”.
And the document, written for the attention of EU Parliament bigwigs, suggests the multi-pronged communications strategy should be focussed on getting voters to the polls and “convincing them to support the European project”.
The revelation comes as a surge of anti-EU sentiment sweeps across the Continent, with the Czech Republic recently electing a eurosceptic, anti-immigration leader and nationalist parties gaining ground in Germany and Austria.
And the proposals were branded a “propaganda machine to silence critical voters” by a Swedish MEP.
The document, obtained by Politico, is expected to be signed off on Monday by the Bureau of the European Parliament.
Its author, Parliament Secretary-General Klaus Welle, cites the “impending shadow of Brexit negotiations” as one of a series of challenges faced by the EU, alongside unpredictable international relations with the likes of Russia and the United States.
The note says: “The next elections will also have important consequences on the European Commission and indeed the post-Brexit EU.
“Europe’s future will be shaped by the 2019 elections.
“In view of the current political atmosphere, it is no exaggeration to say that the EU is at stake.
“The rise in nationalist and protectionist discourse in many Member States thus has not just affected disenfranchised voters, but all sectors and classes of society.
“From that perspective, the European elections campaign should not just aim to bring voters to the polls, but also convince them to support the European project, which provides sense to the European Parliament itself.”
The document warns “2019 will be a far cry from 2014” and acknowledges the political, social, economic and digital environment today is vastly different from that voters were faced with in the last round of European Parliament elections.
It goes on to say the EU Parliament’s communications strategy, using both online and offline methods, “should take a clear and unambiguous stance in favour of the European Union, its importance for all citizens and their future”.
It concludes: “Parliament must therefore take into account the current reality and not shy away from a courageous and innovative approach to this strategy.”
MEP Peter Lundgren of the eurosceptic Swedish Democrats reacted angrily to the proposal.
He told Politico: “The EU federalists are desperate after losing the argument and recent elections in Austria and the Czech Republic.
“The European Parliament will now use taxpayers’ money to build a propaganda machine to silence critical voices.
“Every genuine democrat should be appalled and stridently oppose the casting off of even a pretence of institutional neutrality.”