New portal to translate EU dailies into 10 languages
By Honor Mahony
A new website launched Tuesday (26 May) aims to get EU citizens across the 27 member states talking and reading about the same issues, something that to date has been hindered by language barriers.
With €3 million of European Commission funds a year and a team of 10 journalists, www.presseurop.eu is part of the EU's drive to create a "European public sphere."
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The portal aims to monitor around 250 titles both within and outside Europe, including all of the big national dailies, such as France's Le Figaro, Spain's El Pais and the UK's Financial Times, and put a selection of articles concerning Europe from these papers on the site.
The site will be available in 10 languages with all 23 of the EU's official languages expected to be onboard within five year's time.
The set-up is led by Courrier International, along with Internazionale in Italy, Forum Polityka in Poland and Courrier Internacional in Portugal.
Courrier International chief Philippe Thureau-Dangin said the aim of the site "is not to keep pace with the whole of current affairs in Europe but to bring Europe alive."
EU communications commissioner Margot Wallstrom, who promised the site will be editorially independent, said it will "broaden, enrich and expand coverage of European affairs."
"It has nothing to do with whether we like what the media writes or not," she said in response to a question concerning the motives of the commission for the portal, but rather aims to "prolong the life" of quality articles.
Mr Thureau-Dangin said that the voices of eurosceptics will also feature.
"For news and entertainment, these 500 million Europeans watch satellite TV, listen to the radio via internet, read newspapers in print and online versions. But wherever they are on the continent, most turn to media in their own language, or in one or two others," says an editorial piece on the site.
Its organisers are hoping to have 1.5 million visitors a month across the ten sites by the end of 2010.
The EU set up a similar platform for radio in 2007 and will launch a TV version next year.
The moves come after the commission has for years spoken about wanting to move political discourse away from being purely national in tone to take on a more European hue.
Newspapers' correspondents in Brussels normally report on EU news through national eyes - one of the first questions in the press conference launching the site saw a Slovene journalist ask when the language of her country would be covered by the site and which of the national newspapers would be used by the presseurop.eu.
The same drive to get a European perspective that crosses borders regardless of language and culture recently saw the setting up of European political parties – although they still tend to run on national theme in the individual member states – as well as European political foundations, both funded by EU money.