Sunday

22nd May 2022

Feature

EUobserver's Top 10 stories of 2021

  • (Most) of EUobserver taking a well-earned break over dinner, during one of 2021's brief pauses from Covid restrictions. From left to right: Elena Sánchez Nicolás, Lisbeth Kirk, Nikolaj Nielsen, Wester van Gaal, Koert Debeuf, Eszter Zalan
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With a small team of five reporters and an editor in Brussels, plus an array of freelance reporters across the EU's 27 member states, and with joint investigations with fellow publishers, EUobserver has always strived to dig deeper than the rest, step back from minute-by-minute breaking news, and prioritise original and investigative reporting.

In the past couple of years, EUobserver has taken the decision to focus - by and large - on a handful of the key, even existential, issues facing the EU: climate change (we now have two-full time environment reporters), migration, rule of law and disinformation, and foreign relations (particularly with Russia, China, and - on the EU border itself - Belarus.)

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Plus, of course, Covid-19, which sprang as if out of nowhere in 2020, was a constant on the news agenda in 2021, and, tragically, does not look like disappearing anytime soon in 2022.

"EUobserver has, like many newspapers, seen a huge spike of readership during the lockdown in March to May 2020. We thought we would never be able to match that readership in 2021. But we did. As a matter of fact, our readership doubled in the last two years, something we are - of course - happy about," says editor-in-chief Koert Debeuf.

"In those last two years, we have also seen a surge of law cases against us. These cases are also called SLAPP, or strategic lawsuits against public participation, meant to frighten news outlets, but also put a burden on their work. In 2021 we won a lawsuit against the FlyingGroup. We have now also been sued by the Lukashenko family, more specifically by a Lukashenko-linked firm in order to stop our investigations into their activities. We will not let this happen and will continue looking for the truth."

Below are our unofficial 'Top 10' stories of 2021 - not necessarily the most-read or most-clicked on (deliberately so, as the vagaries of viral hits on the internet are not always reflective of the merits of individual stories) but a selection that shows the width, scope, and depth of our reporting.

Whilst we are proud of all our reporting, a special mention must go to the unique 'on the spot' reportage of Nikolai Nielsen this summer, when the 'spot' in question was an NGO search-and-rescue vessel at sea in the Mediterranean, pulling hundreds of would-be refugees and migrants to safety. A representative story is included below, but see here for the full "On board with SOS Méditerranée" series.

We would also like to thank those of you who already do so for supporting EUobserver and independent journalism.

If have not already joined the EUobserver club, please consider signing up by clicking here.

In the meantime, please enjoy and keep reading in 2022 to see what happens next.

1. Exclusive: MEPs blacklisted for fake election-monitoring trips

The EU Parliament has blacklisted eight MEPs for going on fake election-observation trips, but are those with friends in high places getting off the hook? (Photo: ep.eruopa.eu)

2. Ethiopia: Time to tell the truth, Ambassador

Ethiopia's war is being fought not just in a blackout, but also in a fog of lies, and Ethiopia's envoy to the EU is making matters worse. (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

3. Exclusive: Frontex spent €94,000 on a dinner in Warsaw

The European Border and Coast Guard Day is held every May. The event includes movies, football and volleyball matches between Frontex and national border guards, shooting competitions and exercises to detect smugglers. (Photo: Belvedere)

4. On board with SOS Méditerranée: Ocean Viking's largest ever rescue - witnessed first-hand

The Norwegian-flagged Ocean Viking search-and-rescue vessel saved 369 people on a boat in the middle of the night, some 80 nautical miles off Libya. EUobserver was onboard and witnessed the rescue first hand, in this exclusive by Nikolaj Nielsen. (Photo: Nikolaj Nielsen)

5. EUobserved: The trap of spreading ideas while attacking them

Ideas that are attacked are actually being promulgated. That has been the case for centuries, at least as far back as Thomas Aquinas. And that is certainly the case today with Facebook and Twitter.

6. Exclusive: Hungarian judge claims she was pushed out for political reasons

After she questioned if Viktor Orbán government's restrictive asylum rules were compatible with EU rules, judge Gabriella Szabó was not given an indefinite mandate. She thinks it is because her request went against the government's interests. (Photo: Court of Justice of the European Union)

7. Hungary's nuclear power plant expansion unnerves Austria

The Austrian report, finding the Paks site lies on a seismic fault line, adds to existing concerns over safety issues on the expansion of the nuclear plant - a project pushed by the government of prime minister Viktor Orbán. (Photo: MVM - Paks Nuclear Power Plant)

8. Analysis: Can the ECB solve climate change and inflation on its own?

The European Central Bank operates independently - with good reason - but in cases like climate policy more coordination with democratic authorities are needed, two influential economists have argued. (Photo: Greenpeace)

9. 'Fit for 55': what is it, and why now?

The European Commission will unveil its 'Fit for 55' package of revised climate and energy laws this week. We take a look at what is expected to be in it - and why it matters. (Photo: Jeanne Menjoulet)

10. The EU's Covid-19 certificate - how it will work?

As some member states start issuing the EU's Covid-19 certificate, EUobserver takes a look at what the bloc is doing to restore unrestricted travel in the bloc - a right that has been restricted, even prohibited, during the pandemic. (Photo: Steven Thompson)

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