To start with, a disclaimer — or, relatively, an explication. These aren’t, essentially, the most-read EUobserver tales of the previous 12 months. That metric will get too simply swayed by a rogue story going viral on Reddit for no apparent purpose, or a headline on a bit catches hearth, past what the precise piece, good as it could be, actually deserves (mea culpa for making an attempt to provide you with arresting however correct headlines, an artwork type in itself.)
As a substitute, chosen by our crew of seven reporters and editors, these are the ten tales we thought greatest confirmed the breadth, depth, and originality of EUobserver over 2023, and it is quest for authentic, investigative, off-diary tales about Brussels, the member states, policy-making, social affairs, international affairs, migration and the atmosphere — to call simply 4 of our specialised areas of reporting.
We welcomed to the crew this yr Paula Soler, a Spanish journalist previously of El Confidencial, and together with her got here a sweep of tales on office practices, union rights, the gig economic system, a residing wage, and all the kinds of bread-and-butter employee and shopper points that so many different publications ignore in favour of a ‘top-down’ deal with commissioners, MEPs and ambassadors, or insider Brussels gossip ( you, Politico).
We additionally stated goodbye to Eszter Zalan, our long-serving Hungarian reporter, protecting rule of regulation in Poland and Hungary, in addition to Brexit and LGTQI points, who left to show from poacher-turned-gamekeeper and a brand new job on the European Parliament.
As for the remark web page, one among our best-read sections, I had printed 295 op-eds in 2023, as of 10 December (so add one other 10 to that tally), from round 3,650 acquired (and skim!) — in addition to commissioning, I obtain a median of 10+ each day cold-call submissions, for a slot of 1 to 2 items most each day. To all those that did not make the reduce, and obtained a well mannered ‘no’, I hope that goes someway to explaining why. There’s room (that is the web, in any case), there simply is not time.
So let’s begin with Eszter and Paula.
In April, Eszter researched a deep-dive into the precise authorized and technical logistics of prosecuting Russian president Vladimir Putin for alleged warfare crimes in Ukraine — at that stage, the warfare had simply handed its 12-month mark. Sadly, almost two years on, it stays as related as ever, and the chance of Putin dealing with justice as distant as ever. Learn extra
Giving each 23-year outdated a lump sum cost of €20,000 from taxpayers’ cash sounds — initially — ludicrously Utopian, even naive. However with the destiny of Europe’s 20-somethings stymied by almost 20 years of financial disaster and recession, excessive unemployment, unaffordable housing, ever extra meagre pensions or the power to avoid wasting for them, it really doubtlessly saves much more issues additional down the road. Positive, the already wealthy do not deserve it, however it’s dearer to filter them out than it’s to make it common. Different such fringe radical concepts, resembling nationwide minimal earnings, have come from the outer fringe of Inexperienced/Left think-tanks over the previous 20 years, so may not this one? Learn extra
One of many extra miserable features of 2023 — apart from the Russia/Ukraine warfare, and the Israel/Gaza warfare, that’s — was watching the long-agreed cross-party consensus on Frans Timmermans’ EU Inexperienced Deal unravel and disintegrate on the final minute, because the centre-right European Individuals’s Occasion noticed some political capital in switching horses, and swallowing wholesale the arguments of the Large Agri foyer, and their pesticides and pleasant researchers. Elena Sanchez Nicolas compiled the file on what occurred again in July right here: Learn extra
Not unrelated or unconnected was the last-minute U-turn on the 2020 Chemical substances Technique for Sustainability again in October. Not a topic subject acquainted to the final reader, or most mainstream nationwide media, however one with enormous knock-on results for EU residents — as reported right here by Elena. “The income of the chemical trade are extra necessary than the well being of Europeans,” stated Tatiana Santos, head of chemical compounds coverage on the European Environmental Bureau, and it is arduous to disagree. Learn extra
Okay, whereas we’re nonetheless on a downer about MEPs and their all-too-human foibles and weak spot — how about this unique from freedom-of-information fiend Nikolaj Nielsen in Could? The headline says all of it, actually, however the context (we’re not suggesting each MEP was conscious of this) is that whereas on the one hand the EU Fee has, very tentatively, belatedly and half-heartedly, been going after international tax havens, the European Parliament’s personal pension fund was investing in them. One hand not telling the opposite hand what it was doing — and that is the charitable interpretation. Learn extra
Time for a contract investigation, and this time a have a look at the technology of younger Russian artists who’ve fled Putin’s murderous, autocratic and easily philistine regime, to discover a new life (and hopefully work) in Europe. It is not been straightforward for any of them. This 4,000 phrase function by Daria Kozlova, a correspondent at impartial Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta Europe however briefly ‘on mortgage’ to us as a resident journalist at EUobserver got here out within the dog-days of August and was not (as per my introduction) an on the spot blockbuster, readers-wise. However, like plenty of EUobserver items, it has a ‘lengthy tail’ of readers discovering it weeks, even months later, and now has a really respectable readership. Which it deserves. Learn extra
Some issues could also be morally fallacious, with out being legally fallacious — a traditional case could be the ‘taxi rank’ precept amongst legal professionals, the place they take the following obtainable shopper, be it an alleged assassin or rapist, as a result of all people deserves a authorized defence in a courtroom of regulation. However when your purchasers are Russian oligarchs, preventing EU sanctions after Putin’s invasion of Russia, absolutely there’s an possibility to show down these eye-watering charges? International affairs correspondent Andrew Rettman talked to these legal professionals glad to take the roubles, greater than a yr into the battle. Learn extra
We additionally do campaigns, and particular initiatives. The 2024 European Parliament elections are arising, and while in the actual world, a 35-year outdated shouldn’t be youthful, certainly bearing down on center age, within the Brussels Bubble, it is nonetheless fairly uncommon to have MEPs underneath 35. Bizarre, contemplating the Fridays for Future motion, and all the opposite radical types of road politics campaigning 18-35 yr olds typically get entangled with, however we spoke to all of the under-35 yr outdated MEPs from throughout Europe to see what motivated them — and in the event that they thought of their age a drawback, working within the parliament. Learn extra
Forward of the current CO28 in Dubai, our Inexperienced economic system correspondent Wester van Gaal flew to Abu Dhabi for the launch occasion — and soaked within the bizarre environment that could be a unsustainable desert petro-state, making an attempt to reinvent itself as a world Inexperienced saviour. Have a guided tour of the Potemkin village that’s Masdar metropolis. Learn extra
EUobserver takes delight in protecting the Nordic area — Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland — in cooperation with the Nordic Council. However that is to not say massive breaking information tales normally come out of those largely agreeable conferences of Europe’s high-tax, high-public spending social-democratic North. October was the exception, the place Norway’s prime minister Jonas Gahr Støre broke ranks, to inform EUobserver founder Lisbeth Kirk that Israel’s actions in Gaza went “past proportionality”. An anodyne quote in some other context, within the context of the Gaza warfare, a serious break from EU orthodoxy (sure, Norway is not within the EU, however nonetheless…) Learn extra
That is simply 10 tales — from, at a tough estimate, 1,752 items of journalism printed by EUobserver in 2023. Not a nasty tally, for an editorial crew of simply seven folks. However a particular shout out ought to go to our backroom workers too, of Henner Sorg (gross sales and advertising and marketing), Lou Wilmes (diplomatic relations supervisor), Atufa Ali (enterprise administration), plus authentic founding father of EUobserver Lisbeth Kirk, and chairman of the board, Koert Debeuf.
Whereas we nonetheless have your consideration, a particular point out may exit to remark piece of the yr, and freelance piece of the yr.
Ordinarily, opinion items come from journalists, teachers, ambassadors, NGOs, MEPs, activists, researchers, or union officers, dissecting ignored items of EU laws, false notes within the drumbeat of international affairs, or shopper affairs affecting the hundreds of thousands of EU residents who could haven’t any clue the place or how you can rectify an injustice. I at all times have one mantra for incoming op-eds: ‘Is it new? And is it fascinating?’ And that additionally offers me the liberty as op-ed editor to vary far and extensive throughout points and matters that our crew of reporters have neither the time nor the experience to cowl, broadening the piste of our protection. However this time, a daily op-ed contributor to the location, former Guardian, Politico and Reuters journalist Arthur Neslen, occurred to be in Rhodes this summer time on a household vacation, because the local weather heating wildfires took maintain, and he discover smoke from throughout the opposite aspect of the valley. Learn extra
Simply as we have been “going to press” (to make use of a pre-internet expression), freelance investigative reporter Raluca Besliu, a Romanian journalist primarily based in Brussels however focussing on West Africa and the atmosphere, received the 2023 Hostwriter Story Prize, for this investigation right into a oil spill by the French multinational Totale Power, within the Niger Delta. One thing that, in future, the Worldwide Felony Court docket within the Hague could recognise as a a criminal offense of ‘ecocide’. Learn extra