Archive for May, 2010

Inspiring challenge

The future of journalism is not a European subject. Yet. Or is it?

The question is currently asked by journalists, media people, publishers, programmers, officials, tv-stations, geeks. Dutch TV held a highly interesting conference about The Future of Journalism with input from all over the world in Amsterdam last week. Amsterdam was also the place where it-programmers and others met to combine journalism, community interest and programming.

Some of the most encouraging contributions came from England. One is voluntary and online investigative journalism in Birmingham. Volunteers in an online community solve puzzles about high costs for a community website, parking costs in various parts of the city and other questions. How should journalists react to these challenges?

The other inspiring projects are connected by the My Society programmers, who enable citizens to keep an eye on their MPs or their bumpy streets.

We all agree on the fact, that good journalism plays an important role in society. EU spending via DG Communication amounted to € 89 million in 2008 alone. Numerous pieces of legislation are worked on concerning media, journalism etc – just think of author’s rights, copyright, libel (Rome II) and so on.

Guess it’s worthwhile to keep an eye on the changes. And enjoy the inspiring challenge.

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Follow the subsidy-money

Do we really want to transfer million-euro subsidies to individual recipients in the agro-industry? The latest publication of who got what from the EU farmsubsidies proved that the number of subsidy-millionaires has risen significantly. And right now is the perfect time to talk about it, because right now the future of this money-transfer is being debated.

Each year tax-payers send about €55 billion of to the farming industry, to rural areas and to price-correcting measures for food prices. It is called the Common Agricultural Policy, and it is one of the core businesses of the EU. The reform of this policy has to be finalised before the new budget period decision 2013, so major steps are prepared right now.

Do we, journalists, support the idea of an informed public debate? If yes, we should try to contribute by giving information about this money to the public. And as European public debate goes, we should network amongst each other and then address each our target group.

The current farmsubsidy beneficiaries will – logically – try to keep getting money. New players may try to get hold of money for their purposes. Big landowners and agro-business unite to promote food security and the environment. The commissioner of the environments wants to “green” the policy. Green organisations argue for water protection, development organisations and liberalists against dumping of EU dairy products. And so on – a good auld political debate. Fine.

And even much more important to know, how the money is distributed now.

This week a team of journalists and computer programmers from many European countries met on the initiative of the team behind We ‘locked’ ourselves into a room in Brussels for almost two days. Loads of coffee, tea, sandwiches – and of course wireless internet. The common aim: To analyse the data to find stories for each our readers and viewers. And more importantly: to network in order to find the European or cross-border aspects of the material.

For a start we could present the annual list of top-recipients. Predictably dominated by sugar companies, who are still receiving large amounts because of the latest CAP reform on sugar.

We also have a preliminary list of farmsubsidy millionaires.

Then we have the usual list of anecdotes, including money to an accordion club in Sweden, a skating club in the Netherlands and a billiard club in Denmark. Did anyone mention farmsubsidies? For more details see the harvest-festival-press-release by the team of May 4th.

So in other words: Back to the old saying of English language journalists: Follow the money. After all: € 55 billion per year is worth journalistic coverage. And a public debate.


April 26th, DPA/Spiegel, Germany, Weapon Industry receives farmsubsidies from the EU (full DPA text quoted by Greenpeace)

May 3rd, Euobserver, Brussels, UK delays publication of EU farm subsidy details till post-election

May 3rd, Maskinbladet, Denmark, Sugar barons reap farmsubsidies

May 4th,, Slovenia, The list of 100 largest recipients of farm subsidies

May 4th, Guardian, Britain, EU sugar and dairy companies largest recipients of farm subsidies

May 4th, Landbrugsavisen, Denmark, Prince Joachim and Mærsk get EU subsidies

May 4th, Die, Austria, 178 million for French sugar corporation

May 5th, Euobserver, Brussels, Bulgarian minister’s daughter, accordion club get EU farm aid

May 5th, Trud, Bulgaria, 1,5 million EU farmsubsidies to daughter of a former Deputy Minister

May 5th, 24 Casa, Bulgaria, Daughter of former deputy minister gets EU farmsubsidy

May 5th, Politiken, Denmark, Prince Joachim gets 1,9 million Danish Crowns from the EU

May 5th, N-TV, Germany, For dead Swedes and surf schools – strange farmsubsidies

May 5th,, Germany, Bavaria gets most EU farmsubsidies

May 5th,, Germany/Britain Farmsubsidy legt Analyse der europäischen Zahlungsempfänger vor

May 5th, Farmers Guardian, Britain, Civil servants criticised for withholding CAP data

May 5th, Finfacts, Ireland, Number of EU Agricultural Policy mmillionaires raises by 20 % in 2009

May 5th, Guardian, Britain, Who received EU farm subsidies last year? Whitehall won’t say

May 5th, Financial Times, Britain, EU pays subsidies to sugar groups

May 5th,, Germany, EU-Farm-money: Topincome, lacking transparency, corruption

May 5th,, Germany, Farmsubsidies for billiardclubs, footballplayers and the death

May 5th, Telegraph, Britain, Accordion players and ice skaters get EU farm subsidies

May 5th,, Romania, Bizarre beneficiaries of EU agricultural funds

May 5th, Ervhervsbladet, Denmark, The Prince and Mærsk get million-crown subsidies

May 5th, Nordjyske, Denmark, Joachim and Mærsk get their share

May 6th, Týden, Czech Republic, Farmsubsidies to the daughter of the minister and ice skating

May 7th, Die Welt, Germany, Blessed are those who receive

May 7th, Eesti Ekspress, Estonia, EU bought for 85 million kruuda butter and skimmed milk

May 9th, Danish Radio P1/European Magazine, Who’s become a millionaire on EU farmsubsidies

May 9th, Agrar Hirek, Hungary, Hungary ranked first in transparency rating of NGO

May 10th, 24 hours, Bulgaria, More farmsubsidies – 1.6 million to the wife of the deputy minister

May 10th, Trud, Bulgaria, And the wife of deputy minister gets 1,6 million farmsubsidies

May 11th,, Slovenia, Agricultural subsidies for the Red Cross Slovenia, the Ljubljana Archdiocese and Caritas

May 12th, Farmers Guardian, Britain, More farm subsidy millionaires than ever

May 12th, Farmers Weekly Interactive, Britain, RPA payments create 27 subsidy millionaires

May 13th, Trud, Bulgaria, Prosecutors investigating Peythevs daughter

May 13th, Trud, Bulgaria, Investigate the daughter of former deputy minister

May 14th, Time Magazine, USA, Even in Hard Times, E.U. Agricultural Subsidies Roll On

May 15th, Yorkshire Post, United Kingdom, Exclusive: £1,700 bureaucracy bill to get 1p subsidy cheque to farmers

May 19th,, Slovenia, Analysis of EU farmsubsidies distributed in Slovenia

May 29th, Agencia Latino Americana de Informacion, Stiglitz’s lesson regarding the FTA with the European Union

May 21st, Capital Weekly, Bulgaria, Problems in agricultural programs and regulations – and morality

May 30th,, Czech Republic, Who eats an EU grant

June 1st, Mayo News, Ireland, Mayo receives €119m from CAP

June 17th, Guardian Comment, United Kingdom, CAP provides another bumper payout for landowners

July 5th, Guardian Editorial, Common agricultural policy: rotten but here to stay

Find links about in the news on Farmsubsidy-Delicious.

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Many more millionaires

At least 20 per cent more EU farmsubsidy-millionaires. Probably the figure will even go up to one third more millionaires, once all data are finally analysed (and when the British government will fulfill the EU transparency requirements).

For two days now a team of journalists and programmers from Sweden, Estonia, Bulgaria, Denmark, the Netherlands, Britain, Ireland, Romania and Germany has been analysing the newly released data on who gets what from the EU farmsubsidy billions.

Come to the press briefing and to hear which countries did best and which did worst – amongst other issues (or return to this blog post after the press briefing for an update).

Press invitation:
EU Farm Subsidies Uncovered: Who got What from the CAP in 2009
Last year we could unveil that 1040 beneficiaries got more than one million euro from the € 55 billion-a-year Common Agricultural Policy. The new data for 2009 are now available and the number of millionaires has risen significantly.

Come and be the first to find out who got the money at our press briefing

Tuesday 4 May 2010
14h30 – 16h00

Salon Room, International Press Center, Residence Palace, Rue de la loi 155, Brussels, Belgium, the award-winning pan-European network of journalists, researchers and civic hackers that has secured new levels of budget transparency in the EU, will present the results of two days of intensive data harvesting.

·    We will provide a 2009 update to last year’s list of Europe’s ‘farm subsidy millionaires’.
·    We will present our assessment of how well EU countries are complying with the new budget transparency laws.
·    We plan to shed new light on two important issues from 2009: the resurgence of export dumping by the EU.
·    We will provide the fresh data for 2009 in an easily accessible electronic format for further analysis by journalists and researchers.

Se the website for more information.

Watch ‘Fields of Gold‘, a short film about

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