The EU Journalism Fellowship blog

Almost halftime of the ‘Robert Bosch Journalism Fellowship Program’ for me – a good time to review and let you know how the work as a journalist looks like in the area of rond-point Schuman and Place Luxembourg, in the triangle of the Commission, the Council and the Parliament.

First, taking a look at most of the national media – political Europe seems to consist of directives and regulations of the Commission (Bruxelles decided…), plenary meetings of the European Parliament, and the four-times a year meetings of the European Heads of States. On the contrary of what appears on a page of the national media, a whole big universe of advisory bodies and institutions, lobby groups, meetings, discussions, receptions opens once being on the ground in Bruxelles.

Especially in the first week I was overwhelmed by the quantity of information, the different debates which were actually taking place. But – if you look closer: there is a rhythm, a heartbeat which structures the European institutional life. A vein going from the European Calendar to the European Parliament Calendar, to the Press Conferences of the European Commision, it’s midday Press Briefings, the off-the-record briefings, the VIP corners.

Working as a journalist in Bruxelles, you can not only follow different actors, you have also the possibility to write about topics which could not been more various. A quick overview of my topics in the last weeks: the proposal of a new European agricultural policy by MEP Albert Dess, a week of meetings and hearings in the European Parliament around the 100th birthday of Women’s Day with an Interview with MEP Angelika Niebler and a overwhelming speech by the former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, the new European roadmap about CO2 reduction in Europe and the futuristic idea of a CO2 neutral Copenhagen, an European extraordinary summit about Libya with participating in press conferences with Merkel and Sarkozy and looking forward to a week of fresh air during the European Wind Energy Week.

People from all 27 EU-member states come together in Bruxelles – some might ask: how does this work? Officially having three working languages (English, French and German), practically doing most of the work in English and using French for informal talks. My native language, German has been left behind. Even most of the press conferences and meetings are mostly translated only into French and English. I just use German speaking to other German journalists. Some conversations start in English, when I hear after some sentences a small German accent of my interlocutor – a little pause: “Are you German”? A Smile. “Yes” – and we continue in German.

Some refer to the place between Place Schumann and Place Luxembourg as the ‘Bruxelles bubble’, naming the European Quarter a ‘spaceship’ which has in mysterious ways landed in Belgium, a sign of life on another planet. I don’t share this view – the European Union is not another planet far away – it is present in the daily life of 500,000,000 people living in Europe and should be perceived as such. As a journalist I contribute my part to it.

Hanna Gieffers

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