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API has, not for the first time, asked the Council of the EU to provide a proper stand-up position during European summits for TV crews in front of the Lipsius/Europa-buildings since access to those buildings is not possible because of the Covid-restrictions. Below is the letter API sent to the Director-General for Communication of the Council, Reijo Kemppinen.

API is – again – asking for your attention to the problems our colleagues from the audiovisual media currently encounter when reporting about physical European Council summit meetings under the Covid-restrictions.

They are (with the exception of pools) not allowed access to the Lipsius or Europa-buildings, and therefore have to do their reporting outside, from the public road. But for AV-media it is essential that they can report on the spot, showing their audiences that they are there – that means against the backdrop of the places where those meetings take place.

But that is now almost impossible, as they are not allowed to report or do stand-ups from inside the security perimeter. As we have told you before, several TV-crews who tried to report from outside the security perimeter, from across the street near the Berlaymont, were harassed by Belgian police officers and even forbidden to film with the Europa-building in the background.

As your services assured us, there is no rule forbidding that, but it still happened. Protests by API to the Brussels police have not led to any meaningful response, just a denial.

We therefore ask the Council again to consider organizing a stand-up position for TV-crews within the security perimeter – for instance on the Schuman square. We know, as we have been told before, that the Brussels police does not want that. But we insist you to do everything in your power to change that position.

It is unacceptable to us that AV-journalists will have to do their reporting about the Council from the public street, maybe in bad weather and with no protection. We recall that in the past – like during president Obama’s visit in 2014 – a (covered) stand-up position was erected on the Schuman square. Why is that not possible now?

We understand that the security arguments, but we point out that all colleagues reporting about the Council’s activities are accredited and thoroughly screened, even by the Belgian security services. They pose no threat.

We really hope this can be arranged before the next physical summit, and are available to discuss this further with you at any time.

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