19th Feb 2020


Secret demonstration of 200,000 in Lisbon

Last week during the EU summit, the Portuguese Union, CGTP-Intersindical, organised the biggest demonstration in Lisbon in 20 years.

Under the slogan "For a social Europe – Employment with rights" up to 200,000 people gathered to oppose what they believe to be a "neo-liberal" EU reform treaty, which more or less equals the rejected EU constitution.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Portuguese workers demonstrated during the EU summit in Lisbon for a social Europe and employment with rights. (Photo: CGTP-IN)

The funny - or alarming - thing is the fact, that these 200,000 people managed to demonstrate almost unnoticed without being mentioned by the media.

A keyword search on Google news with "demonstration" and "Lisbon" in the Anglophone media brought only three matches. One was in "EU Business", the other two: the English issue of the Hungarian "Javno" as well as on "Aljazeera".

The German-language media shows the same picture, two matches: the Swiss "Tagesanzeiger" and the Austrian "Kurier". Nothing at all in Germany.

Instead of informing their readers of the demonstration of 200,000 in Lisbon the Austrian "Der Standard" preferred to report about a demonstration of 200 to 300 right-wing europhobe activists in Paris.

So why is that? Isn't the message clear? Only a handful of loonies are fighting against this historical treaty. Don't mention the 200,000! Finally in the francophone media: two matches, one "Le Monde" and two, the Chinese News Agency "XINHUA".

Just for fun: let's get some figures to compare: In France there were 310 articles on "Le sommet" (and 722 on Sarkozy's marital life), in Germany there are roughly 350 articles available on the "Erfolg" (success) in Lisbon. And, finally, the UK provides around 200 articles matching the word "EU-summit". All this is according to Google news.

EU propaganda

I am sure there were more reports altogether than available on Google news, but the picture is clear and there is no need for any further comment. 125:1 is roughly the ratio between the "EU Court Circular" - meaning EU propaganda - and the report about an event that 200,000 EU citizens were engaged in.

Now my personal research showed that obviously even journalists who were willing to write about this demonstration just did not know about it. This seems strange in a digitalised world with all its electronic possibilities of communication.

To be fair, we have to consider the question that the event might have not been communicated properly by its organisers. But there were hundreds of journalist sitting in the EU summit's press centre.

Normally this means "sit and wait". Waiting for the press conferences of the presidency and the national briefings, waiting for some insider information from a high ranking civil servant floating down from Olympus to enlighten the masses.

I am sure that many journalists are not happy with this situation. If they left the venue to report about a demonstration that takes place some kilometres away, they would risk missing a summit story. And apart from that, their editors do not seem to be interested in the story at all.

"So, the sad news is, that if the things do not turn out violent at the demonstration, there are no reports," a journalist familiar with EU summits told me.

For me this underlines my thesis on the "success" of this summit: As usual the Heads of States and Governments congratulated themselves after they agreed on the re-labelled EU Constitution.

They boasted that they have managed to get over an institutional crisis, but in fact they just increased the EU's democratic crisis by completely avoiding the citizens. And obviously you should not count too much on the mainstream media to do anything about it.

Thomas Rupp is the coordinator of the European Referendum Campaign


The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.


Western 'endarkenment' and the voodoo politics of Europe

The continent that gave the world the Enlightenment has collectively reverted to believing in fairy tales and the soothing power of cozy narrowness. Moscow and Beijing like what they see, and are doing everything to strengthen the trend.

Boris' Brexit bluff? - UK will resist alignment to the end

Boris Johnson's special advisor, Dominic Cummings believes in hard deadlines, rapid transformations and visible delivery. Whether or not what he wants is possible, the EU should be sure that he will resist alignment to the end.

What the Dutch don't get about the EU budget

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte is for chopping the European budget and its redistributive mechanisms. But each year, according to one economic analysis, the Netherlands get €7.1bn of additional revenues which should be payed in other tax jurisdictions.

What the EU can do for South Sudan - right now

Despite years of conflict, sexual violence, hunger, and corruption, South Sudan is one crisis where a solution may be in sight – and where quick action by the EU could make the difference to help push the country to peace

The last best chance for Donbas and peace in Europe?

At the Munich Security Conference this weekend, the Euro-Atlantic Security Leaders Group (EASLG) will publish Twelve Steps Toward Greater Security in Ukraine and the Euro-Atlantic Region, endorsed by nearly 50 distinguished current and former senior officials, military officers, and experts.

News in Brief

  1. EU unveils white paper on AI and data strategy
  2. Dutch court rules against Russia in €46bn Yukos case
  3. Britain to bar 'Polish plumber-type' migrants
  4. Greece seeks EU help to get back classical statues from UK
  5. HSBC to cut 35,000 jobs worldwide
  6. Regions chief appeals against cutting EU cohesion funds
  7. Verhofstadt criticises UK Brexit negotiator
  8. Turkish court acquits Gezi park activists

Second-hand cars flaw in EU Green Deal

The moment Europe revels in its carbon-free transport system, most of the cars that emitted too much for EU standards will still be driving around for years somewhere else in the world.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  2. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December

Latest News

  1. EU leaders face major clash on rule of law budget link
  2. North Macedonia warns EU on 'dirtiest ever' election
  3. Western 'endarkenment' and the voodoo politics of Europe
  4. Warning of agricultural 'digital arms race' in EU
  5. Cayman Islands put on tax-haven blacklist after Brexit
  6. Boris' Brexit bluff? - UK will resist alignment to the end
  7. US still open to Kosovo-Serbia land swap
  8. EU countries enter final phase of budget talks

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us