Through the eyes of others
Brussels-bashing would seem to be part of the standard lexicon of sceptics and malcontents in all EU member states. I myself have even heard EU-bashing classics in a small town in eastern Poland (“Oni tam w Brukseli”). Reversing the perspective, and taking a look at how Europe is seen from the regions, is one key objective of euractiv.com. This news portal – for my money the best of its kind – has country offices and partner offices in 13 European states and reports from the bottom up in 12 languages.
One click on the website’s “about us” menu heading, entitled “Euractiv Network”, is all it takes to gain a vivid and immediate impression of the diversity on offer here: България, Česká republika, Deutschland, España … In addition to the German and the international English-language editions of Euractiv, my work as an Eastern Europe correspondent regularly leads me to consult the Polish and Czech pages as well as skimming through the headlines from Bulgaria and Romania. Each time, I marvel at the effect of this shift in perspective and it does not take long until I find myself starting to view Europe through eastern spectacles.
For anyone who deals with the EU on a professional basis, the Euractiv portal is an exceptionally helpful tool. However, there is also a great deal of fascinating material for other users: news, thematic dossiers, opinion pieces, infographics and videos from virtually every European policy area. A question mark remains over the independence of the portal, which was founded in 1999 by media maker Christophe Leclercq. According to its own statements, Euractiv is financed by corporate sponsorship, advertising and via participation in EU projects for which tenders have been invited and through membership fees of associations, NGOs and parties, who are allowed to use the channel for their press and PR work in return. This is borderline, though it does not affect the quality of the site.