About (english)

Background of the project

In the wake of the fall of the Iron Curtain and the enlargement of the European Union, Upper Austria has moved from the “margins of Europe” to the middle of Europe. The province with about 1,4 Million inhabitants has well benefited economically from this development in recent years, especially from subsidies in the fields of agriculture, tourism and in the environmental area. Nevertheless in Austria the general mood and attitudes towards the European Union has been well below the average of the member states. At last and as a result of the international financial crisis the confidence in the European Union and its institutions lightly increased according to the Eurobarometer survey. http://diepresse.com/home/politik/eu/445775/index.do

The fact is that a considerable part of the relevant legislation is decided in Brussels or Strasbourg. Decisions of the European Parliament are strongly influencing the immediate sphere of life of people in Upper Austria. But the reputation of the European Parliament is not the best. According to a study by the Austrian Society for European Policy about 50% of the Austrians describe themselves as “not well informed” on the work of the European Parliament. Approximately 1/5 „knows nothing“ about this work. http://www.ifes.at/upload/1243943202_PRESSEUNTERLAGE.pdf

In general the role, importance, and above all the concrete work and the functioning of the European Parliament are largely unknown to the general population.

In particular the interdependencies and the relationship between the European and Austrian legislation remain unclear. According the latest EUROBAROMETER only 66% of the Austrian population believe that their personal voice in the EU does not count. 47% say they trust the European Parliament. Decisions of the European Parliament normally are covered by national and regional media just in case of topics charged with emotions and often affected by myths and prejudices. In fact there is a comprehensive lack of media reporting on the work of the European Parliament: What is on the agenda in Strasbourg? What is in discussion? What is being negotiated, and how do the results affect the daily lifes of people in the member states?

But above all there is a lack of means of communication and discussion between citizens and the European Parliament. Without any personal experience the European Parliament and its representatives remain distant and abstract for many people. The direct and personal contact is missing, especially in contrast to local or regional policy, whose proponents are visible and tangible for those who vote for them.

The Project „Connecting Systems“ understands itself as an interface between these two spheres.

Issues and Topics

The editorial programs and panel discussions of „Connecting Systems“ will primary deal with up to the minute regional issues, topics and challenges, which also have an European dimension. The aim is to highlight the European dimension and to identify the interaction between European and regional policy.

According to the Eurobarometer 70 the Austrians are mainly concerned with the following topics:

Challenges Austria must face
Higher prices, economic situation, unemployment, health

Challenges Austrians are personally facing
Inflation, higher prices, economy and pensions, health, unemployment, taxes

Challenges the European Union must face
Energy topics, crime, environmental issues, migration, foreign policy

Other topics of relevance fort he project
Functioning of the European Parliament, fight against poverty, media pluralism and media diversity,
Lobbying in the European Union, Lisbon treaty

Examples of questions:
What measures are European, regional and national parliament doing against increasing unemployment, poverty, social exclusion, higher prices and the current economic crisis? How do these measures interact and come together? Which groups in society are affected by these measures? What are concrete effects and benefits for social disadvantaged people? How are these measures perceived and experienced by regional civil society organisations?

Objectives

  • Media coverage, opinion exchange and public debate about the role, importance and practical work of the European Parliament in their concrete relation to political challenges, themes and issues discussed on regional and local level.
  • Strengthening the awareness of opinion leaders and proponents of regional civil society towards the work of the European Parliament.
  • Establish direct personal contact and exchange between representatives of the European Parliament (MEPs, experts, employees) and civil society institutions who are engaged in Free Radios in Upper Austria
  • Involvement of people in the political discussion on the relation of European and regional policy from social groups that otherwise do not participate in decision-making.
  • Motivating people to interfere in European policy and actively look for exchanges and contact with regional representatives to develop and maintain.

Radioprogrammes
The European Parliament: What it is does. How it works.
One 30 minutes radio feature consisting of 5 short information blocks, each of 5 minutes about how the Parliament works. These blocks will also be separately broadcasted (see above)

Date of (premiere) broadcasting
04. February 2010, 18:00 to 18:30

Upper Austria – Strasbourg and vice versa
Six 30 Minutes radio features about current political issues and debates on local and regional level in light of the work of the European Parliament. The aim is to highlight the European dimension on local issues and to identify interaction between European and regional policy. One part is a short block of 5 Minutes with useful general information about the functioning of the European Parliament, which can also be individually broadcasted.

Dates of (premiere) broadcasting
01. April 2010, 18:00 to 18:30
03. June 2010, 18:00 to 18:30
05. August 2010, 18:00 to 18:30
07. October 2010, 18:00 to 18:30
02. December 2010, 18:00 to 18:30
03. February 2011, 18:00 to 18:30

Expert Talk Europe
6 expert talks, 55 minutes. Extensive interviews with staff, MEPs, experts from the European Parliament (und who also have a personal relation to Upper Austria) about their work in Brussels, their political priorities, about the political challenges and current issues. The aim of these talks is to focus on the relationship between regional and European policies on the basis of specific concerns on regional level. The interviews are planned to be broadcasted live and held in public to give an audience the possibility to participate and directly contribute to the discussion.

Dates of (premiere) broadcasting
04. March 2010, 18:00 to 18:55
06. May 2010, 18:00 to 18:55
01. July 2010, 18:00 to 18:55
02. September, 2010, 18:00 to 18:55
04. November 2010, 18:00 to 18:55
06. January 2011, 18:00 to 18:55

Panel Discussion: Upper Austria – Strasbourg and vice versa
Each project partner will organize a panel discussion in the cities of Linz (FRO), Freistadt (FRF) and Bad Ischl (FRS). Participants will be representatives from regional and European politics, civil society and experts from relevant policy fields according to the discussed topics. The discussions will be broadcasted live. Air time: 20:00 to 22:00. The panels aim to increase personal contact between the representatives of the European Parliament and the wider public.

Dates:
Will be announced
The concrete dates will be fixed in January 2010.

Regulars Tables
Every month after the “Connecting System” programmes will be a public regulars table in each radio station. The aim is to exchange opinions and prepare upcoming activities and radio programmes within the project. The main target group of these meetings are the 600 voluntary journalists involved in the Free Radios.

Project partner

Connecting Systems is a project by Freier Rundfunk Freistadt GmbH (Free Radio Freistadt) in cooperation with Freier Rundfunk OÖ GmbH (FRO) and Verein zur Förderung freier, nichtkommerzieller Radioprojekte im Salzkammergut (FRS).

Each partner is running an independent terrestrial community radio station. About 50% of the total population of Upper Austria can listen to one ore more of these radios via antenna.