Tuesday, August 21, 2018

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API PROTESTS AGAINST BELGIAN €50 EU-SUMMIT SECURITY SCREENING FEE

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Revised version

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The International Press Association (API-IPA), representing the interests of the foreign correspondents in Brussels, has learned that the Belgian authorities will start charging €50 to journalists seeking EU summit accreditation, for their security screening every six months (or €100 per year).

API considers this fee discriminatory in three ways:

First, because it will apply only to journalists who reside in Belgium and not to journalists coming from other countries.

Second, because free lancers - who represent a large part of the correspondents in Brussels - will have to pay the fee themselves, while employees from media organisations will be able to have the expense covered by their employers.

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API OFFICE CLOSED 23-27 JULY

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The API office will be closed this week, from Monday 23 to Friday 27 July (incl.). We will be available again on Monday 30 July.

Le bureau de l'API sera fermé cette semaine, de 23 à 27 Juillet (incl.). Nous serons de nouveau disponible le lundi 30 Juillet.

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JOINT CONCLUSIONS OF THE MEETING OF THE API BUREAU WITH MARGARITIS SCHINAS 26.06.2018

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Present: Margaritis Schinas (SPP), Lisa Dimitrova (SPP), Tom Weingärtner, Lorenzo Consoli (API), Eric Maurice (API) Kris Van Haver(API), Michael Stabenow(API), Hans de Bruijn (API), Thierry Monasse (API).

- Taking stock of the Informal Leaders' meeting, which took place on 24 June, it was agreed that the SPP will explore solutions for use of alternative spaces in the BERL, especially for the doorsteps, allowing for better photo opportunities and easier access of journalists.

- Family photos on the 13th floor, SPP to address the issues of the lighting (contra jour) by possibly installing blinds or moving the platform used for the family photo in a different location.

- API addressed the issue of timely information and notifications via e-mail. At press conferences and for the midday briefing, press material including the daily news is rarely available early enough to ask detailed questions.

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Lénaïc Fund: Brussels-based fellowship for young female European journalists

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(version francaise ci-dessous)

The Lénaïc Fund for Quality Journalism is offering a five-month financial bursary of up to €5,000 for a placement starting in October 2018 with Politico in Brussels.

Applicants must be female EU graduates under 28 years of age, aiming to work in EU journalism, able to write in English and have a reasonable knowledge of a second EU language.

If you are interested in becoming the next fellow of the Lénaïc Fund for Quality Journalism, please send your motivation letter and CV in English at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Deadline for application: 22nd July 2018

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IN MEMORIAM ULLRICH SCHUR (1950 – 2018)

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Ullrich Schur (1950 – 2018)

It was a couple of days after the fall of the Berlin wall on 9 November 1989 when Ullrich Schur and his wife Barbara arrived in Brussels. Barbara and “Ulli” - as he was known by his friends and colleagues – were standing in the backrow of a packed Press Room on the first floor in the old Berlaymont building. No one knew then what would be the repercussions of the events. This was particularly true for Barbara and Ulli who had previously worked for the East German state news agency AND in Mongolia. But they certainly sensed more than most of the Brussels based journalists, that things to come would be totally different.

Already back in late 1989 there was this little smile on the face which Ulli never totally lost afterwards – in happier and, over the past, much more difficult times. As the Maastricht treaty took shape, Ulli left ADN and then worked as a free-lance journalist for different regional papers and radio stations, mainly in East Germany. It was a challenging task, but the least you could say about him was, that he never got tired when trying to explain the changes on the European political stage and what they meant for the people back home – not least the ordeal of the East German shipyards or the steel workers at EKO Stahl in Eisenhüttenstadt in his native region of Brandenburg.

Then came the day of his accident at home which left him unconscious during long hours. Later that day a postman calling at his place heard some noises, called for help and helped to save his life. A life which would not be the same anymore, as Ulli’s quasi permanent companion eventually was a wheelchair. Although he was unable to continue with his job, he remained determined to enjoy life under the new difficult circumstances. And, importantly for him, in essence he remained a true journalist. When you met him he was always up to date and ready to come up with a sharp analysis.

Ulli joined API-IPA a couple of days after his arrival in Brussels, on 17 November 1989. And he remained a member for nearly 30 years until his death on 25 June. Our thoughts go to a reliable and kind colleague, to his friends and family, especially his two daughters.

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API OFFICE CLOSED NEXT WEEK

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The API office will be closed next week for a short summer break, from 2 to 6 July. We will be available again on Monday 9 July.

Le bureau de l'API sera fermé la semaine prochaine pour une courte pause estivale, du 2 au 6 juillet. Nous serons à nouveau disponible le lundi 9 juillet.

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API REGRETS LACK OF PUBLIC INFO BY JUNCKER AFTER MIGRATION-SUMMIT

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It is with deep concern that the International Press Association API-IPA takes note of the fact that European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker does not intend to inform the international press about his discussions with heads of state and government on migration and asylum issues during the informal meeting on Sunday. These matters are of major concern for the European public and citizens have a legitimate interest to be informed on the record. 
API-IPA appreciates the willingness of the Spokespersons Service to brief the media off the record but is of the opinion that this is not sufficient. The issues at stake are vital for the European project. We do think that the public should debate them with solid knowledge about the Commission's position, given that the Commission is one of the key actors in this debate.

Tom Weingärtner

API president

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C'est avec une profonde préoccupation que l'Association de la Presse Internationale API-IPA note que le président de la Commission européenne, Jean-Claude Juncker, n'a pas l'intention d'informer la presse internationale de ses discussions avec les chefs d'Etat et de gouvernement sur les questions de migration et d'asile pendant la réunion informelle le dimanche. Ces questions sont une préoccupation majeure pour le public européen et les citoyens ont un intérêt légitime à être informés sur le dossier.

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NO FAKE NEWS: FC API WINS THE SUBSICUP

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This must sound like fake news to you, but it is the truth, simply the truth – and a fantastic truth. For the first time in its more or less glorious, but longstanding history API´s football team (FC API) managed to win the annual Subsicup tournament.

The decision came in a dramatic penalty shootout against the favorites and tournament serial winners Austrian Dream Team (ADT). Augustin Palokaj, well trained to stay calm in the wake of people on the podium in press rooms not answering his precise questions, now kept his nerves in front of the opposition´s goal keeper and laid the basis for a rather unexpected success.

FC API, a fine combination of journalistic and other skills, notably from FC Übersteiger, Gambia and Mali, needed a bit of time for the fine tuning. While we lost the first game against the Austrian team (0-4), Momo with a fine header secured a 1-0 win against FC Lithuania, before our center forward Mahmed nicely scored twice against Team Stuttgart.

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NATO ACCESS PROBLEMS QUICKLY SOLVED

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Journalists holding a permanent accreditation at NATO were unpleasantly surprised today when arriving at the alliance’s new headquarters, where they were not given access on showing their permanent accreditation pass as usual, but also had to wait in a sometimes long line for a separate media-visitors badge and for a special badge to open the new turnstiles at the entrance gate. On top of that, identity cards were taken in and only given back after returning the two extra badges when leaving the NATO premises.

None of these changes in access policy were communicated to journalists beforehand. With a Defense ministerial meeting this Thursday and Friday this looked like a recipe for delays and irritation.

API asked the NATO spokespersons service for a clarification. Our intervention was succesful because Piers Cazelet, the Head of Press and Media/Deputy Spokesperson of NATO informed us later yesterday after consulting the security services that:

at the ministerial Thursday and Friday permanently accredited journalists will not need any additional badges like today. Their permanent badge is sufficient. A security officer will ‘swipe’ them through the gate.

later this year, after the summer break, NATO will issue new ‘smart’ accreditation passes which will include electronic access through the barriers at the entrance.

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API DISSATISFIED WITH SPP REACTION TO LAST WEEK'S COMMUNICATION MISHAPS

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Dear collegues, API-IPA would like to share the following statement with you:
Last week, several complaints have reached us about the handling of news by the SPP.
Tuesday afternoon the Commission put out a statement (18/3982) of President Juncker concerning remarks of Commissioner Oettinger earlier the same day in an interview with Deutsche Welle (Voice of Germany).
This statement, although of considerable importance in the current political context, was not made public by e-mail alert. Alexander Winterstein told us the following day that a tweet was sent out immediately. That might be the case, but API thinks that this is insufficient.
We would like to underline our - until now - common understanding that all news the SPP distributes between the Daily News of day X and the Daily News of day X+1 will be communicated to the Brussels press corps by (push) mail.
The SPP never approached API with the view to change this procedure and replace it by a 'tweet alert'. Nor did it communicate any unilateral change of this procedure on which accredited correspondents could rely in the past.
The second incident concerns the event "Re-energising Europe - Now" which took place Thursday morning. At the beginning of the Q&A-session, President Juncker answered a question on Italy which caused considerable upheaval in the Italian debate. This statement could be found on EbS immediatly afterwards, but was apparently removed for some time from EbS and then put on EbS again.
Several colleagues testified that the video of the Q&A-session was not available temporarily at least on Thursday evening. Margaritis Schinas did not deny this in his answer to API (to be found below). In this context API would like to stress the difference between a video available on EbS and/or „via different channels“.
We urgently call upon the Commission to clarify the reasons why the video of the Q&A part disappeared temporarily from EbS and whether this kind of proceeding is also envisaged for the future. In any case, API judges this way of proceeding totally unacceptable.
Many correspondents use and appreciate EbS. But they must be sure that the material which is made available via this website can be trusted at any time! API regrets that the handling of the SPP has impaired this trust.
We will approach the SPP again to clarify these issues.
API-IPA Bureau
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E-mail received from Margaritis Schinas, 04 June, 23.22h

 

Dear Tom,

I note the two comments in your e-mail below, which we have already discussed bilaterally with some of your colleagues during the past days and also addressed in the pressroom.

On your first question concerning the Commission's statement of President Juncker on the remarks of Commissioner Oettinger, I would like to assure you that the Spokesperson's' Service always strives to disseminate information efficiently and on this occasion we have acted in full compliance with the API agreement. The agreement foresees that communication with accredited journalists is made as early as possible, "either by email alerts and/or press releases". We communicated timely via a publication on Rapid, which - by the way - offers the technical possibility to everyone to subscribe to real time alerts of publications. In addition and beyond the provisions of the API agreement, we also tweeted the statements, as soon as they were published on Rapid.

On your second remark concerning President's Juncker Q&A session on Italy, I can confirm that as soon as we were aware of the media reaction we did our outmost to provide clarifications and attend to the questions of the journalists. The speech and the Q&A were online and available via different channels; journalists were reacting and tweeting about it. As you would appreciate, technical issues are always a factor in our daily work and the Spokesperson's Service was available and responsive to questions through the late hours of the night in order to provide information and clarity.

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API COMPLAINT ABOUT MFF PRESENTATION

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API has sent the following e-mail to European Commission spokesperson Margaritis Schinas about the presentation of the press material about the Multiannual Financial Framework, last week by president Juncker:

Dear Margaritis,

API has received several complaints from colleagues about the way the press material about the Commission’s proposal for the MFF was made available last week.

The press releases and accompanying documents were available only shortly before the start of president Junckers speech in the European Parliament at 1:30pm. With the following press conference initially scheduled for 3pm, and the necessity to follow the proceedings about this topic in the Parliament, this gave journalists very little time to read the extensive material and prepare themselves for the press conference.

As according to our information the decision-making in the College about the proposal was finished around 11am, we assume the press material was ready at that time, and it would have been better if the documents were sent under embargo right away, giving journalists more time to prepare.

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EASIER ACCESS TO COUNCIL BUILDINGS

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The European Council will make the access to the Lipsius and Europa buildings for accredited journalists a bit easier, something API has asked for sometime ago. The interinstitutional (yellow) badge will be ‘upgraded’ for that purpose.

Until now, upon entering the Council premises, yellow badge holders receive from a security guard a white, blank card that has to be used to activate the revolving doors on exit. This white card will no longer be handed out. Instead, you will be able to use your interinstitutional yellow media badge to activate the turnstiles and speed gates, including those at the passerelle between the Europa and Lipsius building which will be operational soon.

But your badge first has to be activated for this purpose. In order to have this done you need to present yourself at the "permanent badge" desk in the main reception hall in the Lipsius building where your badge will be programmed. It will also be necessary to have your photo taken on the spot. The "permanent badge" desk is open from 7.30 to 19.00. If you have any questions, please contact the press centre on +32 2 281 9000 or by email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Council press service has also informed us that later this year the six month badge for European Council meetings will be replaced by a badge that will be valid for one year. More information about this will follow in the coming months.

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API-IPA 2018 GENERAL ASSEMBLY - ASSEMBLÉE GÉNÉRALE

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(version française ci-dessous)

API held its 2018 Annual General Assembly on Tuesday 6 March 2018 in the Residence Palace, under the chairmanship of Tom Weingärtner, API's president. There were about twenty-five members present.

1. Secretary-general Hans de Bruijn gave a short overview of API's activities in 2017, as presented in the annual report sent to all members, with additional comments from president Tom Weingärtner. Main focus was as always on the relations with the European institutions. API regularly meets with the respective spokespersons services and attempts to improve their communication practices. Success is not guaranteed, however, said the president. There was again criticism of the access procedures to the European Parliament, which API will again address.

2. Elections: - the assembly elected a new vice-preisident to succeed Nagayo Taniguchi, who had come to the end of his second and last two-year term. There were two candidates, Eric Maurice and Martin Alasor. The latter however withdrew his candidacy on the spot, after which Eric Maurice (editor-in-chief of EUObserver) was unanimously and by acclamation elected as vice-president. Nagayo Taniguchi will stay on as treasurer and member of the API Bureau. Thomas Friedrich was re-elected by show of hands for a new two-year term as a free elected member of the API Council, with fifteen votes for, three against and two abstentions. Three absent members voted by proxy. The assembly approved without a vote the decision by the API Council to create a seat on the Council for a representative of the Audio-Visual media, Belgian cameraman Olivier Vandersleyen.

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API-IPA CO-FOUNDER GUIDO BOODTS 1944-2018

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API-IPA mourns the death today of one of its co-founders, Guido Boodts (73), after a short sickbed. Belgian journalist for De Standaard newspaper Boodts was one of a group of European journalists who decided in 1975 to establish the Association de la Presse Internationale as representative of the foreign correspondents covering European affairs in Brussels. Guido Boodts became member of the API Council and also one of its vice-presidents during the ‘80s. For many years he was a highly respected colleague in the Berlaymont pressroom. He especially promoted the relations between the foreign journalists in Brussels and their Belgian colleagues. Boodts studied political science before joining De Standaard in 1968 where he developed into its number one European affairs specialist. Later he became foreign editor of the newspaper until his retirement in 2004.

***

API-IPA pleure aujourd'hui la mort d'un de ses co-fondateurs, Guido Boodts (73 ans), après un brève maladie. Journaliste belge du journal De Standaard, Boodts faisait partie d'un groupe de journalistes européens qui décida en 1975 de créer l'Association de la Presse Internationale en tant que représentant des correspondants étrangers couvrant les affaires européennes à Bruxelles. Guido Boodts est devenu membre du Conseil de l'API et également un de ses vice-présidents dans les années 80s. Pendant de nombreuses années, il était une présence respecté dans la salle de presse du Berlaymont. Il a notamment promu les relations entre les journalistes étrangers à Bruxelles et leurs collègues belges. Boodts a étudié la science politique avant de rejoindre De Standaard en 1968 où il est devenu le premier spécialiste des affaires européennes. Plus tard, il est devenu éditeur des affaires étrangères du journal jusqu'à sa retraite en 2004.

 

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API CONDEMNS KILLING OF SLOVAK JOURNALIST

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The International Press Association (API-IPA) is shocked by the murder of our Slovak collegue Jan Kuciak and his friend. API-IPA condemns this crime against a journalist. We expect the Slovak authorities to do their utmost to investigate the truth and to bring the perpetrators to justice.

API-IPA is concerned that this is already the second case of assassination of a journalist in the EU, Maltese reporter Daphne C. Galizia having been murdered only some months ago. Other forms of intimidation are also gaining ground especially in some eastern European countries.

Taking into account the crucial role of a free and independent press, we ask the European institutions and other authorities to undertake everything to bring this tendency to an end and strengthen safety for all media professionals. Otherwise freedom and democracy will be in danger.

+++

L'Association Internationale de la Presse (API-IPA) est choquée par le meurtre de notre collègue slovaque Jan Kuciak et de son ami. API-IPA condamne ce crime contre un journaliste. Nous attendons des autorités slovaques qu'elles fassent tout leur possible pour enquêter sur la vérité et traduire les coupables en justice.

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API HOUR ON 'WHAT FUTURE FOR EUROPE'

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A very interesting API Hour was held on Monday 26/2 with the title 'What Future for Europe?' It was the presentation of the annual report on the European Economy by the influential European Economic Advisory Group, chaired by prof. dr. Clemens Fuest of the iFO Institute of the university of Munich. He was planned to be one of the speakers, but unfortunately his flight from Munich to Brussels was cancelled, and prof. Fuest could not make it on time. But his colleage prof. dr. Jan-Egbert Sturm of the University of Zurich, carried out this task on his behalf. The EEAG-report gives an overview of the economic prospects of the European Union, but also an analysis of the political challenges that lie ahead, with building trust as one of the main factors.

A summary of the report can be found here: econpol-study summary.pdf

More information at www.cesifo-group.de

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API GENERAL ASSEMBLY 2018 - ASSEMBLÉE GÉNÉRALE 2018 DE L'API

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Members are invited to API-IPA’s annual general meeting on Tuesday 6 March, 2018 at 13.00h at the Residence Palace, Maelbeek Room

(The assembly is for API-members only. Voting is only open to members who have paid their 2017 or 2018 membership fee. Members unable to attend may give aproxy vote, in the form of a hand written and signed note, to another member, to be presented to the API secretariat at least 24 hrs. beforethe meeting. Each member may have only oneproxy vote to cast).

Agenda: (final order of topics will be established at the beginning of the meeting):

1. Presentation and approval of the annual accounts for the year 2017, report of commissioners; discharge of the API Board and auditors.

2. Presentation and approval of the draft budget for the financial year 2018.

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API HOUR WITH MARGARITIS SCHINAS: 'COMMUNICATING EUROPE'

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On February 13th an API Hour was held with Margaritis Schinas, the chief spokesperson of the European Commission. The theme was ‘Communicating Europe’, which Schinas used to explain the communication strategy of the Juncker Commission. About fifty colleagues attended the presentation and participated in a lively debate. Margaritis Schinas showed a powerpoint presentation with details about the Commission’s communication policy and statistics about its results. This presentation can be found here: communication commission.pdf

 

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API PRAISES EWG-HEAD THOMAS WIESER

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Today, Thomas Wieser gave his last press briefing as head of the Euro Working Group, which prepares the meetings of the Eurogroup ministers. On this occassion API-IPA issued this statement:

The International Press Association (API-IPA) wants to thank Thomas Wieser for the fair and professional briefings he held as chairman of the Euro Working Group. We always felt well informed by him and we regret that we lose him as a counterpart for the Brussels press corps. API wishes him all the best for his future work.

Thomas Wieser opted for transparancy when he was appointed as the newly created head of the Euro Working Group. He introduced for the first time briefings on the work of this important institution on a regular basis. Although there were considerable reservations of behalf of certain members of the Eurogroup, he continued talking to the press and never gave in to the temptation of giving misleading or even wrong messages.

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LÉNAIC FUND FOR QUALITY JOURNALISM - APPLICATION OPEN

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Dear Colleagues,

Many of you knew and worked with Lénaïc Vaudin d’Imécourt. She was a talented, much respected and widely loved Brussels-based journalist specialising in international trade. She died tragically young just over two years ago.

I am asking for your help in informing young female journalists from across the European Union about the Brussels-based paid fellowships the Lénaïc Fund for Quality Journalism is offering.

The closing date for the next applications is 31 December 2017.

The fund provides a financial bursary of up to €5,000 for five months. Its third fellowship placement begins in March 2018.

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