BRUSSELS--The European Union is searching for a roster of PR agencies to help make the case for enlargement, backed by an eye-catching €20m budget.

The tender comes amid escalating economic concerns within the Eurozone, compounded by scepticism about the merits of admitting more countries into the regional bloc. Specifically, the brief notes that the EU is hoping to “counteract possible myths and misconceptions” about its enlargement policy.

The new ‘framework contract’ is aiming to identify three agencies to handle ‘integrated information and communications activities’, focused on explaining EU enlargement and improving awareness of the topic among the public. The trio of successful firms will be expected to compete for each project during the four-year contractual period. The budget has been set at €5m per year.

“The ultimate expected result is to demonstrate the value of the enlargement process taking on board concerns and preoccupations of EU citizens,” reads the brief, also asking for firms to suggest strategy “in light of recent developments.”

The EU recently completed accession talks with Croatia, setting a target date of July 2013 for the country to become its 28th member state. The brief points out that the years ahead will bring “important challenges for communicating enlargement” in potential candidate countries. These include Albania, Bosnia and
Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Kosovo, Turkey and Iceland.

A recent survey of European business leaders revealed considerable scepticism about the EU’s enlargement goals, amid the Greek debt crisis and continued volatility within the Eurozone. Two-thirds of the 2,000 respondents to the Booz & Company/INSEAD poll do not believe that admitting countries possessing high growth rates, such as Turkey, into the EU will fuel economic growth.

Only a minority, furthermore, said that the answer to declining EU population growth was to add more countries to the EU.

In light of concerns such as these, the tender states that “the main challenge is to demonstrate that the accession of new members will be a source of enrichment for the EU.”

The tender is overseen by the European Commission’s Directorate-General (DG) for Enlargement. Agencies will be required to offer a range of services, including strategic advice; message development; video and online content development; event management; media relations; and, social media marketing.

Target audiences include “the general public”, along with opinion leaders such as media, the youth, regional authorities and the business community.

Firms must demonstrate that they have branches or associated partners in at least 10 EU member states, and in at least three candidate countries or potential candidates.