Why don’t we all know which journalists are accredited to the EU institutions?

Ska Keller retweeted this from Spiegel Online journalist Markus Becker earlier:

The insinuation is that – having purged the Warsaw press, the government of Poland is about to try to do the same in Brussels.

That may be the case, but I see this issue rather differently – why is the list of the European Parliament’s accredited journalists not open and transparent anyway? Because to be an accredited journalist means you have a badge to access the EP and can use EP filming facilities. To know who has the power to report is also a means of knowing who wields influence in Brussels, not least because the Brussels-based press – especially Euractiv and Politico – are so heavily dependent on corporate sponsorship.

Sven Giegold thankfully tweeted me the link to this PDF that lists all the German correspondents in Brussels, and that helpfully contains contact information for the same Markus Becker who was happy to tell me that such information should not be released for data protection reasons! Jaume Duch from the EP also made the same argument. The Polish Permanent Representation also seems to have a list of Polish accredited journalists here.

So then, why keep the secret of who is allowed to report? If we demand EU lobbyist transparency, why are we not also demanding media transparency? Plus many of those journalists accredited to the institutions are those who often so happily blast the EU for a lack of transparency. Double standards? Surely not.

[UPDATE – 21.1.2016, 1715]
A word of clarification – I am not demanding e-mail addresses and telephone numbers of these people. I would however like to know names and the media through which a person is accredited. Also Markus Becker has a problem with my formulation above (see comment below) – the words he used in his tweet were “Nennt man Datenschutz” as a justification for not releasing information. He reckons my wording above was excessive.

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7 comments

  1. Jon

    @mark – that depends if it is known, when someone becomes accredited, what will then happen to the information. The thing is we know there *is* a list (see this for example), but we do not know who has access to it. Also – as I see it – accrediting yourself to the EU institutions ought to automatically mean it is known you have done that. That isn’t the case properly at the moment.

  2. mark

    @Jon: It is one thing when a Perm Rep (or anyone else, for that matter) compiles a list of persons who have actively decided themselves to publish their names in connection with their profession. It is quite a different matter, however, when a government agency asking another authority to hand over a list of accredited persons without their knowledge, let alone their consent. Don’t you agree?

  3. Jon

    @Camille – thanks

    @Markus – if what you say were all true, then your Spiegel Online piece is also nonsense – why are you not advocating that the Polish Perm Rep do precisely the same to compile a list? If all this information is so easy to get in public, then this is a non-story. If it is not, then there is a story and there is a lack of transparency – you cannot have it both ways. And the words in your tweet were “Nennt man Datenschutz”.

  4. Markus Becker

    The “secret of who is allowed to report”? Sorry, that is just nonsense. There is no such secret. If you want a list of journalists reporting about the EU, you can easily compile one yourself by reading the bylines of the respective articles. Try the same with EU lobbyists, and you see the difference between the two. And please, do not misquote me. I have never said that the information “should not be released for data protection reasons”.

  5. Camille

    the French Perm Rep is also giving the list of French journalists accredited for French media : http://www.rpfrance.eu/journalistes-francais-accredites