Philip Fiske de Gouveia, with Hester Plumridge
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With this year's tenth anniversary of the Barcelona Process – the initiative by whichthe EU has tried to foster greater co-operation in the greater Mediterraneanarea – Europe and its southern neighbours have much to celebrate. The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership has been almost unprecedented in its ambition and, while it has not been without its problems, has contributed significantly to the development of international economic and cultural ties with the region.
As European leaders contemplate how best to build on these foundations, Philip Fiske de Gouveia argues that it is time for EU policymakers to take public diplomacy and cultural relations more seriously. Public diplomacy – the activity by which governments seek to communicate and engage with foreign publics – ought to be a priority for EU institutions, but to date strategy and implementation have been disjointed. Thinking employed in the design of the cultural aspects of the EuroMed partnership ought now to be applied to EU engagement with all third-countries.
The fact is that the European Union has enormous public diplomacy potential – the combined 'infopolitik' might of the 25 EU member states and the Commission is formidable. It is true that political and administrative obstacles to a unified and integrated EU public diplomacy remain but policymakers can, and should, work to remove such obstacles. An invigorated public diplomacy – including greater co-operative initiatives between member states – has much to offer the Union in its approach to a host of issues including relations with the USA and China, accession negotiations with Turkey, and the effective
management of migration into the EU.