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Fostering Change In European Union
The year 2004 was an exceptional one for the European Union (EU) with the historic enlargement to include ten new member states and the signature in Rome of the Treaty establishing for the first time an EU Constitution.
The year 2004 was an exceptional one for the European Union (EU) with the historic enlargement to include ten new member states and the signature in Rome of the Treaty establishing for the first time an EU Constitution. That momentum continued into the first half of 2005, marked by the beginning of the ratification process for the European Constitution. The results of the various ratification processes of the proposed EU Constitution, either through parliament or via a referendum, have varied from one country to another. The European Union has to go through a European context that has proven to be both eventful and tense over the last few months. In line with the post French and Dutch referenda studies, European citizens appear today to be more critical in their analysis of the European Union, without however calling into question either their membership, or the European construction itself. Nevertheless, certain indicators from the recent Eurobarometer survey (fall 2005) reveal significant changes in views and highlight just how necessary it is to bring European citizens and European institutions closer together. Thus, the focus is now on how the European Union will reach successfully its citizens and under which conditions this attempt will be more effective. Under this notion, it is interesting to consider the unquestionable fact that the Internet is changing the world we live in. It is a change no less significant than the Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries. Over the last two decades, information technologies and the Internet have been transforming the way companies do business, the way students learn, the way scientists carry out research and the way in which governments provide services to their citizens. In fact, ICTs have managed over the last decade to become the main message vehicles of the modern societies' communication systems. Corporations and governments, upon realizing their immense capabilities, are using contemporary ICTs to disseminate messages, address issues, and ultimately influence public opinion. Living today in the Information Age and as Internet users worldwide are increasing in numbers, organizations like the EU wish to influence the citizens' public opinion using the new digital medium's unique communications capabilities. But any kind of state will not achieve a strong, competitive economy simply by incorporating digital technologies into manufacturing or services. It also needs highly skilled workers to operate the new systems, and digitally literate consumers to buy the new goods and services. That means training and education for people of all ages. Thus, competitiveness depends on how much the state invests in its people. The EU member states will soon have to prove their proactive thinking and their policies effectiveness on the matter.