Europe Direct: Annual Report 2012 - page 10

10
Speaking about Europe
Team Europe is a communication
service made up of independent
speakers from across the EU. Dr
Friedrich Heinemann, a researcher
for a major German economic think-
tank and Team Europe member in
Germany, explains what the service
aims to achieve, and why it is such an
effective communication tool.
“For me, there are two main elements to the job – media contacts
and speeches,” explains Dr Heinemann. “As far as media contacts
are concerned, journalists who want to talk to a European expert
can contact me, often in my capacity as a Team Europe member.
I think Team Europe is an attractive source for interview requests
– because we are not Commission staff, we are less constrained
and able to freely analyse recent developments.”
Speeches, on the other hand, are given to a diverse range of audi-
ences. These can range from young schoolchildren to the general
public and informed specialised academics. This diversity means
that Team Europe speakers need to be able to fine-tune each
subject to suit every situation – although, whatever the occasion,
a few golden rules remain the same.
“When you come to an event as a speaker, never forget that even
a speech is about communication and dialogue – always leave
sufficient time for questions and answers, listen carefully to the
questions and take them seriously,” says Dr Heinemann. Indeed,
many audiences can be sceptical and may not share the speaker’s
passion for Europe. “It is not easy to sell the rationale behind the
ECB’s bond purchases in a German province – but it is always
possible!” he adds.
Europe is Dr Heinemann’s specialist field of research. He heads up
the department of public finance at the Mannheim-based Centre
for European Economic Research (ZEW), and is also a board
member of the German Arbeitskreis Europäische Integration, a
large interdisciplinary association of researchers dealing with
European integration.
“This means that topics such as the debt crisis, and policy reac-
tions to it, are my daily business,” he continues. “What I really
like about Team Europe, though, is that you can communicate to
a much wider audience compared to what you have in academic
debates.” For example, Dr Heinemann was recently involved in a
Berlin Summer School for students from emerging countries. “It
was interesting to see how much attention these clever young
people pay to European developments,” he acknowledges.
Ultimately, it is this direct interaction with citizens, together with
the opportunity to discuss European issues that affect everyday
lives, which makes Team Europe such a valuable asset. “The
participation of independent experts in the communication of EU
policies supports the credibility of the message,” Dr Heinemann
concludes.
© Friedrich heinemann
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