Wednesday

7th Dec 2022

Opinion

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

Become an expert on Europe

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

... or subscribe 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

Disclaimer

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

Column

Autocrats make us all less secure

How should democratic states co-operate with authoritarian governments in the future? My organisation, Democracy Reporting International, has studied the security strategies of 13 democratic governments to understand how they see this relationship.

Big Agri's lies: green EU farming not to blame for food insecurity

The agribusiness narrative is a masquerade. A smokescreen to water down environmentally-friendly reforms and maintain industrial agriculture. A smokescreen to which a majority of European policy-makers, including member states, are dangerously buying into.

Serbia now has no choice but to join EU sanctions on Russia

Vladimir Putin himself is somewhat suspicious of Serbia's leader, as are most who deal with the opaque Aleksandar Vucic. The Russian president has preferred to keep his Serbian counterpart compliant, via a tight rein of annually-reviewed gas pricing.

EU must break Orbán's veto on a tax rate for multinationals

This global tax rate for multinationals could yield up to €64bn annually. Yet, the Hungarian government led by Viktor Orbán has been blocking it for months. The impotency of the EU to strike a deal is irresponsible and incomprehensible.

Column

Autocrats make us all less secure

How should democratic states co-operate with authoritarian governments in the future? My organisation, Democracy Reporting International, has studied the security strategies of 13 democratic governments to understand how they see this relationship.

Serbia now has no choice but to join EU sanctions on Russia

Vladimir Putin himself is somewhat suspicious of Serbia's leader, as are most who deal with the opaque Aleksandar Vucic. The Russian president has preferred to keep his Serbian counterpart compliant, via a tight rein of annually-reviewed gas pricing.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  4. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  5. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  6. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe

Latest News

  1. EU delays Hungary funds decision, as Budapest vetoes Ukraine aid
  2. Borrell gets pension from MEP fund set for taxpayer bailout
  3. Autocrats make us all less secure
  4. Big Agri's lies: green EU farming not to blame for food insecurity
  5. German top court declares €800bn EU recovery fund 'legal'
  6. EU countries struggle to crack Hungary's vetos
  7. Frontex expanding migrant route-busting mission in Balkans
  8. EU ministers in fresh battle on joint debt, after Biden subsidies

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  2. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  3. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  5. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us