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 Wednesday, 22 January, 2003, 18:59 GMT
Cartoon breathes life into MEPs
Irina
Irina's task: To shake off the parliament's dull image
The European Parliament has published a hardback comic-strip book about the adventures of a female MEP in an attempt to appeal to younger EU citizens.

We spent an awful amount of money on brochures that nobody wanted to read and I think the comic people really want to read

Belgian Socialist MEP Kathleen Van Brempt
The free book, called Troubled Waters, recounts the story of Irina, an animated heroine who battles to save Europe from the pollution of its water supply.

At present 500,000 copies of the book have been published and distributed in both English and French, and there are eventual plans for it to be issued in all 11 official European languages.

However some MEPs have dismissed the exercise, which cost around four million euros (2.6 million) as a waste of money.

Revamped image

The comic tells the story of Irina, a glamorous brunette who becomes embroiled in a scandal involving the illegal practices of a chemical company.

She spends much of her time thwarting villains, embarking on high-speed car chases and delivering impassioned speeches to the parliament.

It is all a far cry from the staid, grey-suited image of MEPs.

Some have dismissed the book as an expensive gimmick that belittled the work of Euro politicians, with one British Conservative MEP calling it a "complete waste of money".

Important step

However Belgian Socialist MEP Kathleen Van Brempt told the BBC that the comic book was an important step towards making the parliament's roles seem more interesting to young EU citizens.

"The public think that the European Parliament is a very boring place to be," she said.

"[But] I can tell you this is not always the case and I think the comic tries to describe that."

She also said that the money would be better spent on such campaigns then on regular public relations exercises.

"We spent an awful amount of money on brochures that nobody wanted to read and I think the comic people really want to read, [which is] good," she added.

See also:

30 Apr 01 | Euro-glossary
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