My name is Solène Jouan and during the month of June 2018, I was an intern for the Association of Europeans Journalists – Belgium. It was an amazing opportunity to work for the Association for one month and to learn so many things. I wanted to thank all the people working from the Association who trusted me, such as for example Lieven Taillie, Niels Schreuder, Christian Bouvy, Elena Sánchez Nicolás, Alexandros Koronakis, William Horsley, or Angelika Brussels, This internship changed my life and thank this report, I want to express my feeling about this experience and to explain to you my job as a Trainee for the Association.
* A – Who Am I ? *
I am a French person, a European citizen, and a young woman. I am currently pursuing a double Bachelor’s degree in law and foreign languages at the University of Grenoble Alpes (France). My specialities are International and European law as well as European affairs. Thanks to this double bachelor, I have also the chance to learn English and Chinese.
* B – Why an internship with the Association of European Journalists – Belgium? *
At the time of my internship, I was 2O years old and I had just finished the second year of my Bachelor. However, to obtain this double diploma at the end of my third year that I was going to start next September, I was required to complete a one-month internship abroad. It could be an internship with a lawyer or with an NGO. There were many possibilities, but I didn’t know any person working in these different areas. I could then just rely on myself to find this internship abroad. However, I knew my dreams. On the one hand, I knew that I wanted to learn more about the job of journalists, to really understand why freedom of expression needs to be protected. On the other hand, I am particularly interested in European law, and European affairs in general. I truly believe, as a European citizen, that the European Union is important. I truly also think that we need to understand it better and to be every day involved for its future. Knowing all that, I decided to contact the Association of European Journalists – Belgium. I sent my CV and my cover letter to the President of the Association, Lieven Taillie, to apply for an internship. A few weeks later, after a Skype with him, I received a positive answer.
Before contacting him, I didn’t know this Association. I found it on Google when I was looking for an internship. However, This Association combined two of my areas of interest. It was absolutely perfect for me and for the continuation of my studies.
* C – How to get ready for this internship?
Several days before the beginning of the internship in Brussels, I contacted Lieven Taillie. He was going to be my internship supervisor. I asked him what I could do to be ready for this internship. Before that, of course, I studied again by European law and European institutions notes that I had followed this year. After this call, he suggested me different things, such as for example to read the memoirs of Jean Monnet. This was particularly interesting to the extent that it helped me understand better the construction of the European Union, and to be also alarmed by the current problems faced by the EU today.
This internship gave me the chance to be really involved in the work of the Association. All my tasks were really diversified as you will see.
* A – Talks with Chinese correspondents in Brussels *
One of my first task for AEJ-Belgium was to manage to interview Chinese correspondents working in Brussels. I am currently pursuing a double Bachelor’s degree in law and foreign languages, the languages I am learning are English but also Chinese. Why Chinese? On the one hand, I began to learn Chinese when I was in high school. It was at that time my baccalaureate option. However, at the end of high school, I knew I had to continue to practice this language because otherwise, I would have forgotten everything. On the other hand, it is also important for me to discover other civilizations. It helps to be open to the world and to know it better. AEJ-Belgium knew that and gave me the opportunity to meet Chinese people in Brussels and to share our opinions about different events, different subjects together.
Actually, as an intern for AEJ-Belgium, I had to meet Chinese journalists who were working in Brussels as correspondents for different Chinese newspapers and to interview them. I met four Chinese reporters who agreed to talk to me. I thank them for trusting me. These journalists were Mr ZHENG Bin Correspondent for People’s Daily European Center, Mr Liu Jun from the Guangming Daily et Guangming Online, Dr REN Yan, Correspondent for the People’s Daily European Center and Mr CHEN Bo, a journalist for ECONOMIC DAILY.
—->>> A.1 – Getting my questions ready: Before meeting these Chinese correspondents working in Brussels, I had to get my questions ready. I had free reins for that and I knew what I wanted to ask. On the one hand, I wanted to understand them better: their work experience, their previous jobs and their life here in Brussels. On the other hand, I wanted to talk with them about hot issues, and know their opinions about different political issues. I knew in advance that it would be sometimes certainly difficult to ask all these questions, especially the sensitive ones. I knew the Chinese censorship. Above all, it was important for me to make them understand that I wasn’t there to judge them. I was there to listen them and to try to understand them better.
I decided to classify my questions in different categories. I had in total seven categories which were: 1 – The Job of a Journalist / 2 – Relations between the European Union and China / 3 – The modification of the Chinese Constitution / 4 – The beginning of the commercial war between the USA and China / 5 – the summit between North Korea and the USA / 6 – China’s Silk Road / 7 – Their personal life here in Brussels. In each category, there were between two and seven questions. I knew that I couldn’t have the time to ask all of them, but I wanted to be prepared. And of course, I knew also that I could imagine new questions during the meetings.
—->>> A.2 – Finding the Chinese correspondents: Before interviewing Chinese journalists, I had of course to find them and to persuade them to answer my questions. Lieven Taillie, the President of the Association, knew some of them or got their business cards.
I had the chance to meet very quickly one Chinese correspondent. In fact, during my second day in Brussels, I met Mr Liu Jun from the Guangming Daily and Guangming Online. Lieven Taillie made me meet him because he told him about me. We talked about what I wanted to do. After that, he agreed to give me an interview. He was the first Chinese journalist that I met in Brussels and the first Chinese journalist that I interviewed.
For the others, I can say that I was sometimes lucky. Actually, before going further, I have to explain that AEJ-Belgium is a founding member of the European Press Club in Brussels. Thanks to that, the members of AEJ-Belgium can attend meetings which are organized there. So, the first week of my internship, Europe-China one belt road culture and tourism development committee and the Committed of the China Arts Festival in the EU organized an event there. Many people came from China to attend this event but also Chinese correspondent working in Brussels. When the event finished, I decided to try to talk with them (in English or in French) and to ask them my suggestion for an interview for the purpose of my internship. This day, I met a young Chinese journalist, Mr CHEN Bo, a journalist for ECONOMIC DAILY, who accepted my suggestion. I met other Chinese correspondents this day. Unfortunately, they needed to ask the authorization of their bosses and I never received any answer from them. We can’t have always what we want to have and I understand their choice.
I met also Dr REN Yan, Correspondent for the People’s Daily European Center, thanks to Mr Liu Jun, who gave me his email address.
Finally, when I was working one day for AEJ-Belgium at the Press Club, a Chinese journalist decided to come here to become a member of the Press Club. When he finished his inscription, I decided to go to talk to him and to ask him for an interview. He accepted. This man was Mr ZHENG Bin, Correspondent for People’s Daily European Center.
—->>> A.3 – The meetings: My internship lasted four weeks. I didn’t meet these four Chinese journalists just the first week. This task lasted during all the internship because they were also busy and they couldn’t meet me at any time. They had to take the time to talk to me.
These four meetings were all different. There were different first of all because of the language. Two interviews were made in English, the two others were made in French. They lasted around one hour and a half – two hours. I recorded all the interviews in order to write them after that. As I said before, the objectives of this task were to exchange some ideas on different matters and to understand better their work. During these interviews, I didn’t always share their opinions. Sometimes, it is true, I didn’t agree with them. But, I wasn’t there to judge them. I was also careful when I asked my questions. I didn’t want to fight with them or to make them angry with me. Moreover, I didn’t want them to be in trouble too.
What I can say is that these interviews revealed the necessity to discuss with people, and not just impose our ideas.
—->>> A.4 – After the meetings: Transcription and article: When I finished interviewing them, my task wasn’t done. I needed to listen to them thanks to my recordings and to transcribe them. It was hard work. Moreover, the transcription wasn’t the only thing to do. After all the transcriptions done, Lieven Taillie asked me to write a summary. I had to try to summarize the mains ideas of these four interviews in order to write an article for a newspaper and for the website of the Association. However, the four interviews in their totality were also published on the website of the Association.
* B – Readings of Fondation Jean Monnet pour l’Europe’s books *
AEJ – Belgium has links with the Foundation Jean Monnet pour l’Europe. Thanks to that, the Association received several books and brochures from the Jean Monnet Foundation in Lausanne. I was told to read four small essays and to summarize them in English. Three of them were originally written in French. The goal of this task was to publish the summaries on the website of the Association and to bring these essays to the Press Club, where people would have the possibilities to read them. These essays were « Méthode communautaire et fédéralisme: le legs de Jean Monnet à travers ses archives written by Gilles Grin» / «Les Voies de la relance européenne written by Professor Jean-Marc Ferry»
/ « Quelle Union politique en Europe? written by Hervé Bribosia and Renaud Dehousse
» / « From Economical crisis to Political Crisis in the European Union written by Pat Cox ». I needed to summarize in English these essays and of course I needed to give them the envy to read them at the Press Club.
* C – Being at the Press Conference of the European Commission *
—->>> C.1 – The Press conference and the Midday briefing of the European Commission: I am particularly interested in the European affairs and in the European Union in general. So, being in Brussels was particularly incredible for me because Brussels hosts some of the European institutions and especially the European Commission. I had the chance to receive sometimes an accreditation to follow the Press
conference of the Commission, the Midday Briefing and some other events. Every time, I could observe how accredited journalists worked and asked their questions.
For example, I could intent to the Press conference of Vice-President Katainen and Commissioner Moedas on the 2021-2027 European Research and Innovation programmes, or also to the Press Conference by Margrethe Vestager, Member of the EC in charge of Competition, on State aid Luxembourg / Engie. It was particularly impressive for me to be in this place with so many journalists around me, asking their questions to the European commissioners or to the spokeswomen and spokesmen of the European Commission.
—->>> C.2 – Attending special meetings : If I attended several press conferences, I also attended special meetings, held by the European Commission.
- – Press statement about the Brexit
I went to listen the Press statement by Michel Barnier, chief Brexit negotiator for the European Union, following a week’s round of negotiations between EU and the UK. During this meeting, he decided to discuss three points : The separation issues / The major question of Ireland and Northern Ireland, in light of the UK paper presented the day before this conference / The future partnership and the conditions to succeed. It was particularly interesting to be there in order to understand the complexity of the Brexit, the difficulty reaching an agreement while the Brexit will normally happen next year, and the impossibility to anticipate the events.
- – French Prime Minister’s visit to Brussels : Press statement with Edouard Philippe and Jean-Claude Juncker
On the 20th of June, the French Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, and the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, held a small conference before around thirty French and Belgium journalists. Each of them spoke and answered few questions asked by the journalists there. It was a very small conference and unfortunately, all the journalists wanted to ask more questions, but the two others didn’t want anymore to answer. During this conference, the journalists wanted to have answers regarding some French positions such as for example the « Directive on work-life balance for parents and carers ». In fact, the European Commission wanted « to encourage a better sharing of caring responsibilities between women and men. »1 and had proposed notably to introduce « The strengthening of parental leave by making the four months period compensated at least at sick pay level and non-transferable from a parent to another.»2 . However, during a meeting of the Labour Ministers, France rejected « the sick pay level proposition » because it would be, according to France, too expensive. The answer of the President of the European Commission was particularly interesting. In fact, he just said: «I am used to seeing the member States disagree with the suggestions proposed by the Commission. That’s all !!!»
* D – Interviewing a European correspondent for Radio Gold *
Christian Bouvy is a member of the board of AEJ-Belgium. He is also working for Radio Gold, being the director of programs and news director for this radio. Moreover, he also produces for this radio, with AEJ-Belgium, a special program named « Gold Press Europe ». With Lieven Taillie, they interview European correspondents working in Brussels for an hour, in French, asking them personal and professional questions such as their life in Belgium or their comments on different European events for example. Christian Bouvy and Lieven Taillie suggested me that I interview with them an Austrian economic journalist, Oliver Grimm, working for the Viennese daily ‘Die Presse’.
—->>> D.1 – Preparation of the questions : Before the D-day, I needed to prepare some questions that we could ask him. In order to prepare the questions, I had to know this journalist better.
- – Who was Oliver Grimm ?
That’s the reason why Lieven Taillie asked him to send us a small biography of himself and a quick summary of his CV. I learnt that this journalist had studied law for five years in Vienna, before doing an internship for the European Commission and becoming a journalist. He had worked as a European Correspond for Die Presse in Bruxelles but also in America, and especially during the American Presidential elections. Knowing that was particularly useful because we would have the chance to discuss many different issues with him.
- – Finding the questions
My task with the Chinese correspondents helped me a lot. I knew how to prepare questions for different people, depending on their experiences. For this task, I decided to organize my questions in three categories.
>> The first category was his background: I wanted to ask him why after studying law at University, he had decided to become a European correspondent or to describe for us the night of the American election of 2017 when Trump was elected President of the US.
>> The second category concerning Austria and the EU’s crises: The first of July, Austria took over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. At the
time of the interview, Bulgaria was still holding the Presidency, but I wanted to ask him his opinion about this European affair. Moreover, I found it interesting to talk with him about the new Austrian government, and especially about one event which happened on the 13th of June, 2018 when the Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurtz, called for a « Berlin-Vienna-Rome axis » to fight immigration, which is quite scary when we just think about the history of Europe.
>> The third category was his life in Brussels: Some personal questions about his personal life here in Brussels and his opinion about the city.
I sent my questions to Lieven Taillie, who added a few too. But, we knew also that all these questions were just a framework for our interview. More interesting questions could also be found during the interview.
—->>> D.2 – Few minutes before the Interview: On a cloudy Monday, I had to meet before the beginning of the interview Lieven Taillie and Christian Bouvy at the radio. They explained to me that the interview would last around forty minutes and that there would be two short musical breaks. The music was not chosen by accident. Our guest had chosen the music. Actually, he had chosen a French one « La bohème by Charles Aznavour » and an Austrian one « Wia Tanzn is – Die Strottern ». We then divided the questions between ourselves and after that, it was time to begin the interview, (which would be in live), because Oliver Grimm had just arrived.
—->>> D.3 – The Interview: When Christian Bouvy began to speak, I began to be really stressed. I knew that it was in life and I didn’t want to make mistakes. Christian Bouvy introduced me, asked me to speak about me quickly and then introduced our guest. After that, the interview began and it was very interesting. We talked about many subjects, many issues, and our guest had many things to say. Everything went well and the interview can be listened to again from the website of the Association: —> http://aej-belgium.eu/interviewed-oliver-grimm-radio-gold/
From left to right: Oliver Grimm, myself, Lieven Taillie (© copyright AEJ Belgium)
* E – Going to different meetings *
—->>> E.1 – A breakfast event on « Business Confidence in China » : One day, the treasurer of the Association, Niels Schreuder, who is also chairman of the Dutch Network and the Holland House, charges he takes upon his job as public affairs for AGC Glass, contacted me, contacted me to suggest me to participate in a conference about China. He was invited by The Belgian-Chinese Chamber of Commerce (BCECC), which organized with the China-Luxembourg Chamber of commerce and BenCham a special event, hosted by the Benelux Union. This special event was about different topics such as for example the Sino-Benelux Business Survey. I learnt that The Sino-Benelux Business Survey tries « to examine the performance and expectations of Benelux businesses in China and researched how companies have dealt with changes within their environment. »3. This conference was also about how to trade with China and how to understand some Chinese restrictions. Niels couldn’t go to this event and ask me if I wanted to stand in for him. He knew that I was learning Chinese and he thought that this event could be particularly interesting for me. Of course, I accepted his suggestion. This event was really good because there were many speakers, who explained the reality of the Chinese market, the advantages and difficulties for the Benelux’s companies. If this area is not my speciality, it helped me understand a lot of things.
—->>> E.2 – Introduction to the Programme of the Austrian Presidency: When the European correspondents go to the Press conference of the European Commission, many documents are available for them, printed by the European Commission. One day, after a press conference, Lieven Taillie gave me one sheet of paper. It was an invitation to go to a conference at the Residence Palace, which is a building in front of the European Commission. This conference would be a presentation of the programme of the Austrian Presidency (Presidency of the Council of the European Union). Lieven Taillie couldn’t go there. However, I could. The speaker of this conference was there in order to try to explain to the journalists the priorities of the Austrian presidency. After his speech, some journalists were able to ask questions.
This conference was particularly interesting because several days after that, I would attend a conference which would be about this subject, a conference I would help to organize.
3 Sino Benelux Business Survey 2018 – Final Report.pdf
- F – Organizing the AEJ’s Press seminar about Brexit and the future of Europe on June 26-27 in Brussels and writing a Report about it for AEJ-Belgium*
Two weeks before the end of my internship, I began to work on a very important event for the Association. Actually, on the 26th and on the 27th of June, the Association of European Journalists organized a press-seminar. In order to organize it, I needed to do many things, to contact many people. AEJ-Belgium but also the other people from AEJ-international trusted me and gave me the opportunity to help to organize this seminar and helped me learn a lot.
—->>> F.1 – Summary of the Seminar:
- – What was this event about?
This seminar was about different issues and we had in total of four panels. As you will be able to see, we needed to discuss very important and current subjects that you can find below.
- PANEL I: The Future of EU after Brexit.
The speakers were MEP Brando Benifei (S&D, IT – member of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and EU40 Board) / MEP Elmar Brok (EPP, DE – member of the Brexit Steering Group, member of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs) / MEP Brian Hayes (EPP, IRL) / MEP Danuta Hübner (EPP, PL – member of the Brexit Steering Group and chair of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs) / MEP Caroline Nagtegaal-van Doorn, (ALDE, NL) and the moderation was done by Alexandros Koronakis (Vice President of AEJ Belgium).
- PANEL II: Attacks on journalists and press freedom in the EU.
The speakers were MEP Ivan Stefanec (EPP, Slov) / MEP David Casa (EPP, Malta) / Journalist Tibor Macak / Journalist Jozsef Horvath (AEJ-Hungary) / Ernest Sagaga (Head, Human Rights and Safety – International Federation of Journalists). The moderation was done by William Horsley.
- PANEL III: Brexit: State of play in negotiations/Brexit and citizens.
The speakers were MEP Catherine Bearder (ALDE, UK – Quaestor and member of the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety) / MEP Ska Keller (Co-Chair Greens/EFA (DE)) / MEP Jude Kirton-Darling (S&D, UK) / MEP Mairead McGuiness (EPP, IRL) / MEP Claude Moraes (S&D, UK – Chair of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs ) and Amb. Gregor Schusterschitz, Austrian Brexit-Delegate.
- PANEL IV: Priorities for Austria’s EU-presidency from July 1st.
The speakers were Prof.Dr. Klemens H. Fischer (Permanent Representation of Austria to the EU) / MEP Georg Mayer (ENF-AT) / MEP Evelyn Regner (S&D- AT) / MEP Paul Ruebig, (PPE, AT) and Markus Beyrer (Secr-Gen of Business Europe). The moderation was done by Martyna Czarnowska from Wiener Zeitung.
- – Who were the speakers and the guests?
This seminar was organized by the Association of European Journalists with the help of the EP media Services Unit, for some 30 journalists from 14 different EU-countries who were members of the Association of European Journalists in their country. Some of these journalists would be also speakers for our different panels, as well as some members of the European Parliament (MEPs).
– Where did this seminar take place?
This seminar took place in the European Parliament in Brussels. So, after the European Commission, I had the chance to discover this other European institution.
—->>> F.2 – My assistance for the organization of the seminar:
The organization of this seminar took time and many things needed to be done. I was always in contact with Lieven Taillie but also with some other members of AEJ- international such as for example Otmar Lahodynsky (the president of AEJ-international),
William Horsley (Media Freedom Representative of the Association of European Journalists and AEJ UK Chairman), or also Tibor Macak (AEJ’s Secretary General and Secretary General of AEJ Slovak).
– Contacting some members of the European Parliament
I began to work on it two weeks before the beginning of this press seminar. As a first task, I was told to try to contact some members of the European Parliaments. Actually, the members of AEJ-international had already contacted some of them several weeks ago and some of them had already confirmed their presence to the different panels. However, others hadn’t answered yet to a confirmation email sent by the Association. My task was to contact these MEPs to know definitely if it was possible for them to attend the seminar. As soon as I received the names, I searched on the European Parliament’s website to find the numbers of the offices of these MEPs in order to contact their assistants working in Brussels. To their assistants, I needed to explain that AEJ organized a press seminar and that we needed to have the confirmation of the presence of their bosses and to know if there were still interested.
Furthermore, I also needed to contact some other MEPs because we needed to have different political groups represented.
– Sending emails for each MEP and for the AEJ’s journalists
After having a list of all the MEPs who were going to participate, as well as one of the journalists, Lieven Taillie told me to write an email to each MEP personally, and an email for the journalists too. Thanks to these emails, I explained a few details of the seminar such as for example the dates and the places, some last minutes changes. I had also to send them the programme for these two days in PDF, PDF that I had modified before with William Horsely’s indications received by email.
So, first of all, I needed to prepare the emails that I wanted to send. Secondly, I had to find the email address of each MEP (which can be found on the website of the European Parliament) and to send them the email.
– Meeting Ms. Angelika Bruels, working for the EP media services unit and finalizing last minutes details
The day before the beginning of the seminar, Lieven Taillie and I went to the European Parliament in order first of all to collect my accreditation for the European Parliament. Secondly, we went to meet Ms. Angelika Bruels from the EP media services unit, who helped us a lot to organize this seminar. She was very helpful and I really want to thank her for her help. With her, we finalized some details of our programme and we went to visit the two rooms dedicated for our event. Simultaneously, I needed to answer some emails that I had received, questions asked by the Assistants of some MEPs. I needed also to inform the members of AEJ that some speakers, in the end, would not be able to attend the event. Furthermore, Lieven Taillie asked me to prepare a biography of each speaker. This biography would be printed with the programme and be given to the participants.
The morning of the seminar, Angelika and I tried to finalize again many things. We also helped the different participants to find their way inside the European Parliament, which is extraordinary huge. Before the beginning of the first day of this seminar, I also met the people which whom I was in contact by mails, such as for example William Horsley or Tibor Macak. It was a pleasure to finally meet them.
– Attending the seminar and taking notes
If I helped organize the seminar, I also had the chance to attend it for two days. I could be there, inside the European Parliament. I could listen to these journalists and MEPs, coming from different countries in Europe, who were discussing really sensitive and important subjects. I was also told to take notes and to record the different panels, in order for me to write later a report about this seminar for the AEJ-Belgium.
IV- Conclusions of the internship
After the end of the seminar, I had to write a report in English in order to publish it on the website of the Association. I had to share my opinions about what had been said during this seminar. If I agreed, disagreed with some speeches. It was a huge work because I needed to listen again, and several times, all the panels (each panel lasts around 1h30). Even if it was hard, it was particularly challenging for me to do it and it helped me learn a lot. This report can now be found on the website of AEJ-Belgium.
* A – Learning about myself *
Thanks to this internship, I could learn so many things. First of all, I could learn about myself. I had to do important things in due time, many things that I had never done before. It was a challenging internship which helped me to surpass myself day after day.
* B – Learning about what I want to do in the future *
Before the beginning of this internship, I hoped that it would help me to know what I could do after my third year of my bachelor, which was going to start at the beginning of September. I wanted it to help me to find my way and to find what I wanted to study after this new year. I had known already at that time that I was particularly interested in the European Union, the European affairs, the European law. However, I didn’t know that it could be a passion for me. I know now that I want to continue to study European Law, to be maybe specialized in it. I think I want to do now a master in European law. Perhaps do an Erasmus abroad to study it, maybe in Brussels, a city that I discovered thanks to this internship and that I really appreciated. And maybe one day, I would be a European reporter.