Wednesday, August 1, 2018

"Belgium to charge journalists €100 a year for EU summit coverage"

Financial Times, August 1:

Fees will offset costs of providing police and security for Brussels gatherings
The army of Belgium-based journalists covering EU affairs face having to pay €100 a year to attend the bloc’s summits, in a move that has sparked anger at the country’s government for hindering freedom of the press.
 Under a Belgian law that came into force on June 1, journalists based in the country will be charged €50 for compulsory six-monthly security checks needed to attend summits of EU leaders. Journalists from outside the country attending summits will not be charged the fee.

EU leaders’ summits, which are formally held every three months in Brussels, are run and organised by the European Council, which represents the bloc’s 28 member states. Policing and security costs for the summits are picked up by the Belgian state....MORE
As one of the commenters on this story wrote:
Belgium seemed to function better when it didn't have a government.
When you consider the GDP generated in Belgium simply due to hosting the magisterium of the EU and EC institutions this really is taking the biscuit. 
All of which brings to mind one of my favorite "How-To's" of all time, a piece of inspired journo-genius. Via our 2009 post: Attention Journalists: "How to write about pointless international organisations"
The Financial Times' Alan Beattie wrote this bit of brilliance last year for the G8 meeting. His friend Gideon Rachman duly posted it on his FT Rachmanblog. I am reposting it in full to bookmark for future reference:
...Alan then forwarded me a generic column on international institutions that he has written. It really says it all - and I think I may simply reproduce it, every year, round about G8 time.
It goes as follows:
By reporters everywhere
An ineffectual international organisation yesterday issued a stark warning about a situation it has absolutely no power to change, the latest in a series of self-serving interventions by toothless intergovernmental bodies. 
“We are seriously concerned about this most serious outbreak of seriousness,” said the head of the institution, either a former minister from a developing country or a mid-level European or American bureaucrat. 
“This is a wake-up call to the world. They must take on board the vital message that my organisation exists.” 
The director of the body, based in one of New York, Washington or an agreeable Western European city, was speaking at its annual conference...
Just brilliant.
Follow the Rachman link for the whole thing.