IN MEMORIAM: Mikel Aguirre Amantegui (1957 - 2021)

Mikel Aguirre had chosen a motto that fit him neatly: "I go and I come back and vice versa." Unfortunately, this time he won't be coming back. Mikel left us last Friday at the age of 63. Colleagues in Brussels and in particular the International Press Association will always have fond memories of a meticulous journalist and an endearing personality. Our thoughts are with his loved ones, his family and his many friends.

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IN MEMORIAM NORBERT SCHWAIGER (1937 – 2021)

For decades Norbert Schwaiger, who passed away in Munich on February 1st at the age 83 years, was a very familiar face to Brussels based journalists. In 1975, at the age of 38, he became the head of the Press Service of the Council of Ministers. He remained in this position until his retirement in 2002.

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1297 Hits

Belgian Travel Rules for Journalists

Update 28 january 2021
The Belgian journalists' unions provided us with this very useful information

The Belgian government has recently introduced new measures with regard to travel and professional activities. As always, interpreting these rules can be challenging.

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NO INCREASED MEDIA ACCESS YET TO COUNCIL MEETINGS

Last week API sent a letter to EU Council secretary-general Mr. Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen, asking for more access and facilities for journalists during European Council and ministerial meetings in these Covid-times (see our letter below). We received a reply from Mr. Tranholm-Mikkelsen which unfortunately offers no perspective in the short term on changes in our working conditions at the Council, due to the Covid restrictions. Here is the letter from the secretary-general to API president Katalin Halmai:

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API ASKS MORE ACCESS FOR JOURNALISTS TO THE COUNCIL

The Covid pandemic is having an increasingly negative impact on the way we can do our work as Brussels correspondents. API wants more opportunities for journalists to directly and closely report on European summits and ministerials. In a letter to Council secretary-general Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen, API calls in particular for journalists to be allowed access to the doorsteps of leaders and ministers on arrival and departure at the Lipsius or Europa buildings. 

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612 Hits

API ASKS EU COUNCIL FOR STAND-UP POSITION FOR AV-MEDIA

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.

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REPORT OF API’S ANNUAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY – THURSDAY 01.10.2020

The annual general assembly was originally planned for early April 2020. But due to the corona-crisis the event had to be cancelled at that time. It was not possible to organize it again in the following months, The API statutes state that an assembly must take place at least once a year. Therefore the API Council decided that the assembly would take place online, via the Zoom-platform. About 30 members attended.

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GENERAL ASSEMBLY 2020

API-IPA's annual general assembly will take place ONLINE on Thursday 1 October 2020, at 10:00h

The annual general assembly was originally planned for early April of this year. But due to the corona-crisis the event had to be cancelled at that time. In the following months it was not possible to organise it again, The API statutes state that an assembly must take place at least once a year. Therefore the API Council has decided that the assembly will take place online, via the Zoom-platform.

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TRAVEL INFO FOR CORRESPONDENTS TO STRASBOURG AND GERMANY

From 14 to 17 September the European Parliament will hold its first 'normal' plenary session since March in Strasbourg. And the German EU presidency still has a few 'physical' ministerial meetings planned in Germany. That raises travel issues for Brussels correspondents wanting to attend those meetings in person.

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IN MEMORIAM UGO PICCIONE 1928-2020

It is with great sadness that API learned of the death on 20 June of Ugo Piccione, former president of API-IPA and a well known Brussels correspondent from the sixties well into the eighties.

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COVID-19 AND JOURNALIST’S ACCESS TO THE EU INSTITUTIONS

The restrictive measures resulting from the corona crisis in Belgium are being slowly and gradually lifted. Then, of course, comes the question when the European institutions will follow, and when we will again have access as usual to the European Commission, the Council of the EU and the European Parliament. The simple answer can be short: not any time soon. 

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Good News – Midday Briefing Q&A in Real Time!

From Tuesday 14 April EU-accredited journalists will be able to ask questions in real-time and do follow-ups during the European Commission's daily Midday briefing! The Commission's Spokesperson Service will that day launch an interactive system to run briefings and press conferences. 

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Coronavirus: API Discusses Media Arrangements With Institutions

The API Council held a virtual meeting using Zoom this Thursday. Main topic were the media arrangements of the main EU institutions and NATO during the coronavirus crisis.

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Journalistic Activities Excluded From Lockdown

Since Belgium officially went into a full lockdown yesterday, API has received questions from colleagues who want to know to what extent the restrictive measures also have an impact on their journalistic activities. Especially where journalists want to take to the streets to conduct interviews, make reports and do stand-ups.

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European Commission: Voluntary Registration of Journalists in Fight Against Coronavirus

The European Commission will start on Tuesday 10 March with voluntarily registering the names of journalists attending briefings and press conferences in the Berlaymont press room as part of its measures against the spread of the corona-virus.

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API Meeting With European Commission's Security Service

The API Bureau on Tuesday 3 March had a meeting with the heads of the European Commission's security service. We discussed a number of security issues, mainly related to the access to the Berlaymont for journalists.

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New Inter-Institutional Badges

As most of you you will know by now the European Commission's Security Office has launched a new format for the inter-institutional badges.


They are no longer yellow but white. The name of the media of the holder and the accreditation number are not mentioned anymore, only family name, surname and expiration date. API-IPA has been informed that all these changes were made for practical and security reasons.

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REPORT OF THE MONTHLY MEETING OF THE API COUNCIL, 30 JANUARY 2020

1. First experiences with the SPP of the new Von der Leyen Commission.
Remarks made:

  • Unfortunately the new SPP has maintained the 'cluster structure' introduced by the Juncker Commission, with no longer one spokesperson per commissioner. The description of the portfolios of the SP's is too vague. Now it is not always clear who to go to with specific questions. The quality of the SP's is OK.
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1127 Hits

JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER SAYS FAREWELL TO THE COMMISSION PRESS ROOM

Today departing European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker made his last appearance in the Commission press room to say farewell to the European correspondents before handing over the Commission Presidency to Ursula von der Leyen. Also chief spokesperson Mina Andreeva and her deputy Natasha Bertaud said goodbye, as they will be leaving the spokespersons service. Hundreds of correspondents applauded President Juncker. On behalf of API and all correspondents, former API president en board-member Lorenzo Consoli said the following: 

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Martine Joos 40 Years of Service to API

On Thursday 24 October we celebrated the 40th anniversary of Martine Joos as secretary of the International Press Association. In October 1979 she started working for API-IPA, and in the four decades since Martine has been continuously at the center of the association. She has been and still is the most invaluable source of information for thousands of foreign correspondents in Brussels, who have passed by her office in the IPC to become a member of API, to get help with accreditations or advice on settling in Belgium and how to cope with the many institutions and local bureaucracies. 

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