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Home » Flagship proposals

Create a new employment statute for EU correspondents

Submitted by on November 14, 2011 – 12:372 Comments


For infor­ma­tion on Europe that is rooted in the regions, closer to people


Cre­ate a new statute for Europe cor­re­spon­dents accord­ing to which the cor­re­spon­dents’ social secu­rity schemes and pay­roll charges will now depend on the law in the coun­try where their employ­ers head office is based, and not any­more on the correspondent’s coun­try of residence.

This statute would apply to all jour­nal­ists cov­er­ing the Euro­pean Union, in Brus­sels and Strasbourg.

Explana­tory statement

The num­ber of Europe cor­re­spon­dents is in free-fall. Today one can count barely 1,000 accred­ited jour­nal­ists, for 38,000 Euro­pean civil ser­vants and 15,000 lob­by­ists work­ing in Brussels.

Sev­eral fac­tors seem to explain, to vary­ing degrees, this dis­ap­pear­ance. The first would be the lack of ambi­tion and ini­tia­tive of the cur­rent Euro­pean Com­mis­sion pres­i­dency. The sec­ond, the avail­abil­ity on the Inter­net of all Euro­pean Com­mis­sion press con­fer­ences and Euro­pean Par­lia­ment debates. As such peo­ple often say that send­ing a jour­nal­ist to Brus­sels is point­less. But on the con­trary, being in Brus­sels or Stras­bourg is essen­tial to explor­ing Europe’s polit­i­cal machin­ery, in which cit­i­zens have a part to play, in order to carry out real inves­ti­ga­tion and analy­sis. Infor­ma­tion on Europe can­not be lim­ited to the “copy paste” of offi­cial press releases found on the Internet.

The key fac­tor in the lack of local and national Europe cor­re­spon­dents in news­rooms is the pro­hib­i­tive cost of Bel­gian pay­roll charges (which are, for exam­ple, three times higher than in Ger­many). Media organ­i­sa­tions that want to keep a Europe cor­re­spon­dent some­times have no other choice than an ille­gal one, which con­sists in declar­ing the correspondent’s res­i­dence and work­place as being in his coun­try of ori­gin, rather than in Belgium.

The Inter­na­tional Press Asso­ci­a­tion has been ask­ing for years for the cre­ation of a spe­cific employ­ment statute for Europe cor­re­spon­dents; it has become urgent to set this up.

Related posts:

  1. Why do they leave Brussels?
  2. How to recon­nect jour­nal­ists to Strasbourg?
  3. Cafeba­bel cel­e­brates 10 years of Euro­pean information
  4. Cre­ate a Euro­pean net­work for train­ing in Euro­pean journalism
  5. Should the cov­er­age of Euro­pean affairs become a part of pub­lic broad­cast­ers’ missions?


  • Esther Durin says:

    There is a long-standing mobil­i­sa­tion for the cre­ation of a new statute for Euro­pean cor­re­spon­dents. But the main issues are to know by who and how it should be created.

    Apply­ing social secu­rity schemes and pay­roll charges of the coun­try of ori­gin is a pos­si­bil­ity. There may be alter­na­tives? Do you have any idea?

  • Esther Durin says:

    On Novem­ber 8 pre­sen­ta­tion, Marc Gru­ber alerted us on the fact that this statute would arrive too late, if we take into account that most Euro pean jour­nal­ists are today self-employed, and no longer wage earners.

    Fully right!

    But could this new statute and the sub­se­quent pay­roll charges reduc­tion, lead national and regional media to send again jour­nal­ists to Brussels?

    Fif­teen years ago, free­lance statute was more a choice. Today, it has become, for many jour­nal­ists, an imposed and inevitable way. To sur­vive with the cri­sis, media dras­ti­cally low­ered their expenses. Jour­nal­ists are the first vic­tims: reduced job secu­rity, flex­i­bil­ity, piece rate work… Fac­ing tes­ti­monies, this sit­u­a­tion tends to reduce journalists’s inde­pen­dance and freedom.

    From then on, a new employe­ment statute could lead to new hir­ing, with more secure work con­di­tions, for Brus­sels jour­nal­ists? Couldn’t it?

    What do you think?

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