On September 11th experts of PPMI and a Brussels based communication agency “Arctik” presented the final report of the mid-term evaluation of the communication strategy of the European Committee of the Regions. The evaluation was presented to all levels of organisation –operational staff of the CoR, the political level representatives and the Secretary General. The purpose of this evaluation was to measure progress of the Strategy’s impact on the CoR.

The communication Strategy of the CoR was introduced in 2015, in a very sensitive political context. Disenchantment with EU institutions and national politics recurrently had been voiced in recent European elections and was also conspicuous in the latest Eurobarometer surveys. Against this background, there was a clear need for a better coordinated, open, two-way and participatory communication approach. In this context, the European Committee of the Regions committed to improve communication on Europe with a help of local and regional authorities.  The Strategy is rather unique in its’ ambition to influence the core political mission of the organisation through communication. The Communication Strategy intends to build on organisations communication potential with an aim to reconnect Europe with its citizens by establishing a dialogue between the local and the EU level.

Based on a thorough analysis of the CoR's planning and reporting documents, 33 semi-structured interviews, and a stakeholder survey, we reviewed and measured the results of the CoR's communication activities for the years 2015, 2016 and the first two quarters of 2017.  The evaluation showed, that more than two years after the introduction of the CoR’s 2015-2020 Communication Strategy, it has already made an impact on the way communication activities are approached by the CoR. The stakeholders and communication professionals interviewed tended to agree that the strategy strengthened the CoR’s image by contributing to more focused, more transparent, and better branded communication activities. While the strategy’s impact on communication activities has been more visible, its potential to serve as a catalyst for organisational change has not been fully realised at this interim phase.

Our study provided a broad picture about the current state of effectiveness and efficiency of existing communication measures implemented by the CoR, taking into account various vistas and particular needs of its stakeholders. Based on the findings, we outlined a need for a better consensus within organisation on communication objectives. The report also proposed a number of managerial and operational recommendations on management level and operational level on how the communication could be reproached for CoR to be more effective in pursuing its’ mission. These insights will help the CoR to implement and improve its two-way and participatory communication approach.

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