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EU Press Service

2. The Commission's midday briefing

The European Commission (see ‘The main actors’ for explanations of the institutions’ roles) is usually the first port of call for journalists wanting to find out what is happening in the EU. Not only does the Commission run the EU’s Europa web server, but it also hosts the midday briefing for accredited members of the Brussels’ press corps. Journalists based outside Brussels who have a national press pass can gain entry by showing their card – plus ID – at the press conference reception desk. If in doubt, contact the Commission’s press team. The midday briefing usually sees Commission spokespeople presenting the latest proposals or decisions adopted by the Commission and then fielding questions on them. Commissioners themselves will make an appearance when they have a major proposal to announce.

Journalists based outside Brussels can follow the daily briefing live or recorded through the web:

  • On Europe by Satellite (EbS): live streaming of the daily briefing for journalists with high-speed internet access and standard multimedia software. It also covers sessions of the European Parliament and some Council of Ministers press conferences. TV companies can obtain live feeds and stock shots of events from EbS free of charge.

  • On the web: press releases and background material are posted on the Commissions virtual press room, the EU Press Room less than an hour after they are given to journalists in the Berlaymont building in Brussels.

The midday briefing is also an excellent way of meeting journalists from other member states. Creating a network of well-informed colleagues gives everybody a more rounded view on a particular subject and the benefit of knowing what the story is in other EU countries.

Spokespersons of the Commission

Each of the EU institutions has a spokesperson who, in the case of the Commission, is backed up by a team of official spokespeople responsible for certain policy areas i.e. health and consumer affairs, trade, competition policy, transport, etc.

Generally speaking, the spokespeople are the only officials apart from Commissioners and Directors-General (of Commission departments) in the Commission allowed to speak on the record on behalf of the institution. Civil servants working in the Commissions Directorates-General (DGs) are not supposed to speak to the press. Nevertheless, once a working relationship has been established with an official, they can usually be quoted 'off the record' and can in any case give valuable background information.

See Contact Guide of the EU4Journalists for a list and contact information of the Commissioners and their Spokespersons.

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