Just had a discussion on Twitter with @npanayotopoulos and @kosmopolit about the problems faced when someone moved from one European country to another. Moving to the UK, you are often required to provide referees to rent – how do you get those if you lived in your own home, or your landlord doesn’t speak English? I have had my own problems getting credit because I haven’t got 3 years of addresses in the UK. Would really like to hear what else has come up. These are the nitty gritty issues of being in the EU and are in their way far more important to many people than the intricacies of the co-decision procedure as amended by Lisbon!
I was in Brussels yesterday and the day before, with a group of visitors. They were all people who teach journalism in UK universities, most of them former journalists, and who were interested in finding out more about how the EU really works. The idea of the visit came out of approaches I had had from several of them, either asking for people from our office to come to talk to their students, or else looking for information about the EU and the accuracy of some media reporting.
On the first day they had some presentations on the institutional set-up of the EU – who does what, how decisions are made and so on because, by their own admission, they didn’t feel very well-informed. There was a look at political priorities for the future, and how the Commission organises its information and communication. We visited the audio-visual facilities made available to journalists accredited to the Commission’s press room, had a virtual tour round other services for journalists and spoke to various people about working in Brussels: a journalist, a Commission spokesman and a UK government spokesman.
Like most visits of this type, almost the best result was the networking among the group. There were 7 universities represented. Some brought several people, one just one. Some had met before, some were meeting for the first time. But it was clear that new ideas emerged for their teaching and research. Certainly several indicated to me that the visit had really given them food for thought about the coverage of EU issues in the UK. Perhaps the main message that emerged was that the EU shouldn’t be treated as a foreign news story, but as the nuts and bolts of what happens at home (a view shared, I am told, by Nigel Farage!).
For my part, watching the presentation of what we do to the outside, with all my insider knowledge, it occurred to me that what we do is, for the most part, very dull. Very important, very useful, very relevant, and very necessary. But nonetheless very dull (conciliation process anyone? Comitology decision?). Maybe we should start making more a virtue of that…?
I also met some fellow-bloggers today, which was not only a pleasure, but quite useful. Watch this space…
If you’re an existing or aspiring journalist, there are two pretty cool competitions going on at the moment which you might be interested in.
The first is the Enlargement Young Journalist award, open to journalists and journalism students aged 17 to 35 from the EU or current and future candidate countries. They’re looking for a creative, thought-provoking piece – online print or AV – focussed on the expansion of the EU. There are national winners and then three Special Prizes.
The second is AV only, and is looking for a 3 minute piece on what Europe means to you, with at least 90 seconds using footage available from the audiovisual portal. Most of the material available through the portal is raw and unedited, as it’s intended for broadcasters, so there’s a lot of room for creativity there too. Details and rules available here. The winning entries will be screened at MIPTV in Cannes and the winner will walk away with €10000