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Picture Atlas List 


Source: Zeitbilder , No. 4, 2003

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Picture Analysis
In order to make the complex structure of the EU visually comprehensible at a glance, infographics and tables are often used in school text books. The above graphic from the year 2003 (i.e., before the expansion of the EU into 25 member states!) is found in many variations in textbooks for the fourth class of the Austrian education system and also for the 8th class, thus without any particular concern for the age group. In "Zeitbilder 4" , a text book for 14 year olds, there is a work assignment for this graphic: "Compare the powers of the European Parliament with those of the National Council . Which institution within the EU has final decision-making power?"

The infographic conveys how and in what strength the individual member states are represented in the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council of the European Union, and it uses keywords to denote the areas of responsibility of these institutions and the ways in which they interlock.

It must be said that the way in which political decision-making takes place and is negotiated is very minimally explained; detailed information on the areas of responsibility of the individual EU-Institutions is also missing; furthermore in the four pages of text that accompany this graphic illustration, "The Common House of Europe", there is absolutely no reference to the infographic. The text only depicts the historical development of the European Integration Project.

The degree of abstraction of the infographic thus presupposes basic knowledge of the functioning of political systems as well as fundamental information on the institutions of the EU. This reflects a certain conception of politics that opens up very few possibilities of participation for European citizens.

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