5th Dec 2023


Here's the headline of every op-ed imploring something to stop

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Let's start off with a grand sweeping statement about something that everyone already knows; Russia's war in Ukraine started in 2022 and changed everything, or maybe about how the effects of climate change are devastating. Even better would be to combine both, to cushion this op-ed in a bed of world-changing events that might make the issue seem as important, even though it's not.

Since we have 800 words, and really don't want to get to the point just yet — or possibly until the very end — let's use this paragraph to showcase some big numbers. 61,000 deaths, possibly, or one million acres, or €37.8bn. Numbers beyond comprehension, very large numbers, that will get worse if we don't address the point that this op-ed is about, but don't give away just yet.

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I, the director-general, CEO, or chairman (but definitely a man), say something personal here that shows how much I care about the subject of this op-ed, which we still haven't broached. To me, it is of the greatest importance that I say this personal thing, switching confusingly from omniscient to first person singular, possibly because our very expensive comms consultant said that makes the argument more personable and authentic.

A subheading that kind of covers what's below

About 200 words down, six hundred to go, so we still have quite some paragraphs to fill with boilerplate on how our organisation has been working on this subject for years. This is important, because how else will the reader know that this is an authoritative source writing on a subject of utmost importance that must be stopped immediately?

But lest you, the reader, might be turned off by the negativity of four paragraphs about how bad the subject of this op-ed is, and how crucial it is to stop it, this is where we might say that remarkable steps have been taken on this subject over the past decades. It used to be 67,000 deaths, or two million acres, or €56bn. Not everything is all bad, lighten up.

Obviously, these steps towards a better future were taken thanks to the tireless efforts of our organisation, working with a number of relevant EU agencies, which we'll mention here by name to not alienate our relationship — or possibly the funding we receive through them. We could even mention another important person here by name, in case they'd like to brag about their good work on Twitter. EU commission president Ursula von der Leyen.

One would think that this would be a good paragraph to delve into the specifics of what these efforts were and how they worked to magically turn €56bn into €37.8bn, but one would be mistaken. Very carefully, this is a sentence that implies that this number could have been €24bn, were it not for outside factors impeding our good work, impact and progress.

But has this good work, impact and progress been enough? The answer, which should be painfully obvious to anyone but single-celled organisms, is still worth exploring here at length. Because with more involvement, better policies or a larger amount of funding, things could have been better. Support was lacking. This paragraph must strike the right balance between gratefulness and indignation, as we're still dependent on that funding.

Could this then be the point of this op-ed?

It's probably time to cite a few reports here to support our plea, preferably by important institutions. The European Investment Bank (EIB), possibly, or the World Health Organisation (WHO). Definitely, not some minor agency like the Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO) — who cares what they think? — or the 'European Agency for the operational management of large-scale IT systems in the area of freedom, security and justice' (e-LISA), and yes this is actually the name of an EU agency.

From that report, we'll highlight some sentences that support the point we're making that it's vital for this thing to stop. "This sentence might or might not have been in the report in the context it's being used for in this op-ed," the report stated. "52,000 deaths, half a million acres or €12bn," it adds.

We've heard that people get bored when confronted by too much evidence, so instead of adding what the European Commission thought of this matter, let's wrap up this bit and move on to the section where we fire up our final emotional plea for this terrible issue to finally stop.

Enough is enough

Just 70 words left. Incredible how op-eds just fly by when refusing to get to the point of what we think should be done to stop this, but comms told us people don't want to hear about policy — or they just didn't do the research needed to explain what the problem is and how it could be stopped.

So let's just say here that we support policies that will help stop this. Those policies have our firm support, even.

A better world is within our reach. A world of 24,000 deaths. Of just 6,000 acres. Of €12bn. It's about time.

I've been manning the op-ed inbox while my colleague Matthew is on a well-deserved holiday and it has driven me a little crazy.

At EUobserver, we get hundreds of op-eds per month that follow the same form as the one above — and that's a shame.

Instead of actually digging into the interesting details of a problem and its proposed solutions, many organisations choose to stick to grand sweeping statements, platitudes and self-complimenting. Or a template.

But we can help. Contact me at at@euobserver.com to find out about our editorial services (or just some advice) that can help your organisation actually make a point. And possibly even a difference.

In other news, this series is back. I've been terribly inconsistent, but only because we've been working on many exciting changes to the future EUobserver, which we'll dig into in issues to come — and I promise I won't stick to platitudes.

We'll be covering topics like our new website and what should go into a modern news website, a long-forgotten form of journalism, funding adventures, why the media business is hard (and why I love it) and what went into creating a couple of upcoming editorial projects.

Now, onwards to the news you should not have missed this week.


EU 'exploring' anti-migrant naval blockade

The European Commission won't rule out discussing a naval blockade to stop migrants and refugees from fleeing North African countries like Tunisia.

Read it.

Green economy

EU auditors: Offshore wind farms pose 'green dilemma'

The development of offshore renewable energy in Europe may fall short of renewable objectives, the European Court of Auditors warns in a report published on Monday.

Read it.

EU Politics

Socialist MEP defends own side jobs after voting to ban others

Socialists in the EU Parliament have pushed for a ban on lobbying by MEPs, but their own vice-chair says his consultancy side jobs are just fine.

Read it.

MEPs call for extra €10bn to boost EU's long-term budget

MEPs are seeking an extra €10bn between 2024-2027, compared to the proposal of the European Commission. EU countries are expected to oppose the top-up request.

Read it.


Report: Tax richest 0.5%, raise €213bn for EU coffers

A small tax on the richest 0.5 percent would increase EU tax revenues by €213.2 billion, says a new report by the Greens.

Read it.

Rule of Law

Fresh stink around former EU chief in tobacco affair

Knives are back out for Barroso, the former EU Commission chief, after a Belgian court found his top sleuth guilty of gross misconduct in the biggest EU scandal before Qatargate.

Read it.


Russia to blame for Azerbaijan attack, EU says

Russia is to blame for Azerbaijan's blitzkrieg against Armenians, a senior EU official has said. And Moscow is hoping to topple Armenia's Western-leaning leader.

Read it.

As always, thank you to all new subscribers to this newsletter, and my various inboxes are open for feedback, suggestions, tips, leaks, ideas and gossip. And don't forget to become a member (or subscribe to our daily newsletter) to support our work.

See you next week,



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