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Claire Dunlop and Claudio Radaelli – two political scientists at the Centre for European Governance hosted the session.

Engaging the Public in Busting Euro-Myths

Claire Dunlop and Claudio Radaelli – two political scientists at the Centre for European Governance – hosted a public engagement event which brought together Elisabeth Sweeney of the European Parliament’s Information Office and members of Exeter’s University of the 3rd Age (U3A) to explore situations where we wrongly believe that the European Union (EU) is responsible for initiatives that come from other places – for example, regulations that come from other international institutions or from our government. These have become known as ‘Euro-myths’.

The event, on Friday 27 March 2015, was inspired by research our political scientists are carrying out into the impact of Euro-Myths on the UK debate about membership of the European Union (EU). Claudio said: “We shared views about the EU, but also memories of post-war Europe. It wasn’t the classic talk, but a genuine exchange, exploring together the fundamental reasons that bind us together in a community of peace where human rights, rule of law and free markets are protected by institutions. Democracy is in crisis at the level of the nation-state, and has not yet materialized at the level of the EU. This is the challenge – everything else is the politics of myths, nostalgia and fear”.

Elisabeth said: “Despite the UK having been a member of the EU since 1973 there seems to be a general knowledge gap about how the EU functions. The session with the U3A and the European Parliament Information Office at Exeter University was a valuable opportunity to explore some of the reasons for this. The lack of an information campaign by the government, limited learning in schools as well as misrepresentation or lack of interest to cover EU stories by the Media have all led to Euro-myths taking hold. A very engaged U3A audience made for a lively and interactive session which covered a wide range of issues relating to the role of the UK government and Parliamentary scrutiny committees and the role of elected MEPS in EU decision making."

Carol McCullough of the Exeter U3A University Liaison Team said: “75 members of Exeter U3A had the opportunity to engage with both academic staff of the University of Exeter and a representative from the Information Office of the European Parliament in London. We had a stimulating and informative session which gave us a clear insight into how wary we should be of the myths about the EU which are peddled in our national press, particularly in this election year”.

Funding for the event came from the Jean Monnet Chair in Political Economy awarded to Professor Radaelli for the period 2015-2017.

Listen to Claudio’s remarks:

Access Elisabeth Sweeney's presentation.

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