The API council has discussed the canceling of the midday briefing when the commission meets in Strasbourg. A number of objections were raised. Most prominently, the council felt that abolishing the midday briefing would deprive journalists of the opportunity to talk -- on the sidelines -- to spokespersons on that particular day.
The midday briefing is the only occasion where colleagues can be certain that they will see spokespeople and be able to put specific questions to them on a wider range of subjects. This would no longer be possible if the midday briefing were to be abolished on Strasbourg Tuesdays.
The API council also discussed the idea of also bringing together spokespersons in Brussels in the afternoon of the read-out in Strasbourg. We came to the clear conclusion that such an idea would not help very much — especially for journalists working for daily newspapers. The idea would not give journalists sufficient time after 4 or 5 pm and before their article deadlines.
Primarily for these reasons, the API council expressed a clear wish to have a midday briefing in Brussels at noon on those Tuesdays when the commission meets in Strasbourg as on every day.
Similarly, the API council was disappointed that no midday briefing took place on 22 June and that we were neither informed in advance nor consulted.
More generally, the API council is rather concerned that SPP communication policy is increasingly focused on "priority" issues set solely by the commission. We do not contest the right of the commission to formulate and implement its own communication policy. However, this should definitely not be done at the expense of journalists' right to inquire about subjects that the commission might not itself consider as a "priority".
Journalists need a functioning communication infrastructure to which they are both able to put questions to and from which they may reasonably expect to receive meaningful answers on a range of issues fueled not only by developments in the commission itself but also other institutions in Brussels as well as from other bodies in member states and around the world.
The Commission may consider itself as a „political" one but this does not remove its obligation to pick up issues that are of importance to colleagues or to answer factual questions on a daily basis. Our impression is that there is no balanced treatment by the SPP of one and the other.