UPD 'A Song for the European Union'

by Richard West-Soley 75 views

The European Commission plans to use the Eurovision Song Contest 2007 to mark the 50th anniversary of the European Union, according to a report today in British newspaper The Telegraph. Today, an official comment from the EBU appeared on eurovision.tv. The reaction states that the Eurovision Song Contest is not a political event, and whilst they are genuinely open to the ideal of collaberation with the EU, the Eurovision Song Contest would not be used in this way. The full response can be seen below.

A while ago already, reports circulated that the European Commission was planning a Eurovision-style event to mark the half century, with performances from artists broadcast across the Eurovision network of stations. But in a memo reportedly seen by Telegraph reporters, it appears that officials are considering taking over the contest itself – the 52nd annual Eurovision Song Contest – to say happy birthday to the European Union.

Non-member worries
In the memo reportedly seen by The Telegraph, Swedish commissioner Margot Wallstrom apparently enthuses about transmitting the celebratory message out to all 25 member states. "A well-designed project will be transmitted by TV channels, ensuring impact and visibility" she writes, continuing that "the involvement of possibly linkages with the Eurovision contest could be seriously considered in this respect." But a link with the contest may not be as welcome to non-member states, in particular those former communist nations who endured compulsory 'celebrations' of almost every aspect of public life for years. Already the newspaper cites an anonymous government source in the Czech Republic, who confirms this fear: "For most of the new members, this plan brought back memories of Communist times." Czechs are planning their first ever outing at Eurovision in 2007.

The Treaty of Rome is taken as the birth of the European Union on March 25, 1957, by which time the song contest was already a year old. But the union still lacks universal support, and Finland is no exception. According to Ville Vilen, co-ordinator for Eurovision 2007 speaking in the same article, "We will have to ask if this is a good idea because half the Finnish people don't actually like the EU". The issue is certain to be a hot topic at both EU and EBU board tables.

EBU Response (taken from eurovision.tv), Wednesday 26th July 2006

In capacity of rights owner and coordinator of the Eurovision Song Contest, the EBU strongly denies that such a link could be possible.

The Eurovision Song Contest is a large scale television show watched by millions of viewers every year and, as such, it has always been, and will always remain independent from any political ties, and it cannot convey any political message. Also the fact that more or less half of the 40 participating national broadcasters are from countries outside the European Union indicates that any link between the show and the European Union is irrelevant.

However, on the general level, the EBU continues to be genuinely open to collaboration with the European Commission. ”In case the European Commission wishes to cooperate with the EBU in the celebration of its anniversary, the EBU will be more than willing to approach its members in order to develop a specific programme for that purpose, as was the case with celebrating the enlargement of the European Union from 15 to 25 countries on 1 April 2004.” says Bjørn Erichsen, Director of EBU Television.

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Richard West-Soley

Senior Editor

Richard's ESC history began way back in 1992, when he discovered the contest could fuel his passion for music and languages. Since then, it's been there at every corner for him in some way or another. He joined the esctoday.com team back in 2006, and quickly developed a love for writing about the contest. In his other life, he heads the development team at the learning resources company Linguascope, and writes about all aspects of language learning on the site Polyglossic.com.

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