In an exclusive article for our website, Richard Corbett comments on the British coverage of the last European Council .
It was instructive to see at last week’s European Council how, yet again, the bulk of the British media seem to carry a different story from everybody else at such events – even the supposedly unbiased BBC.
Most serious newspapers on the continent covered the actual deliberations of the European Council: Libya, Syria, Schengen, migration, economic governance, another loan to Greece, appointment of a new Governor of the Central Bank, Croatian accession to the EU, and so on.
The British media (virtually alone) produced screaming headlines about the cost of a new European Council building (or, rather, extension): the construction of which was decided in 2004, is well underway, and was not on the agenda of this European Council, other than (under “Any Other Business”) to give it a name – the politically uncontroversial “Europa” building.
Of course, any construction work during the crisis is apparently taboo (except, presumably, the new NATO building down the road, which costing four times as much). Presumably it should be cancelled, half built, thereby saving perhaps 20% of the costs – and totally wasting some 80% that has been spent already.
But no-one at the meeting sought to reverse the previous (unanimous) decision of the European Council that new premisis are needed. The old building, constructed when the EU had only 12 member States, is too small to cope: for instance, all other meetings in the old building are currently suspended for 3 days whenever there is a European Council meeting.
And as to it being ” Van Rompuy’s Palace”: – it was decided years before he was President, it will essentially be for his successors – and for the literally hundreds of other ministerial meetings that take place every year the Council.
But why let facts get in the way of another story designed to discredit Europe?
|Richard Corbett is a former Labour MEP and currently a member of President Van Rompuy’s cabinet at the European Council. He writes in a personal capacity.|