Wed, 19 June 2024

Minutes AEJ Board meeting, 18 of May 2019 Springer Schlossl, Vienna, Austria

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William talked on his activities at the Council of Europe activities, Poland and Public media topic initiated together with Bobinski. The topics for the Paris congress are also consulted with William. He helps out also with talk on possible Council of Europe coverage of the expenses of some of the journalists there. The international visibility of AEJ as being part of the Council of Europe platform on journalistic safety and the report on the current state of the media in Europe.
In July in London on the initiative of Jeremy Hunt there will be a big forum on media freedom. The info and links would be forwarded to the Board when available. The program is still in preparation phase. He also disagrees with the proposal from Oana on Ethical Code for Journalists as every media has its own Code of Conduct and good practices.

Irina asked who is talking notes and Otmar proposed that she could do it. She told that she couldn’t count of her handwriting as she travels without a laptop due to some medical conditions. She needed a laptop, apparently unavailable with a proper keyboard, so we do count only on Irina’s handwriting 😉

After the arrival of Tibor, Lieven posed the question on written agenda for the Board meeting well in advance as a condition for all the national sections to know what the Board will discuss.

Otmar and Tibor answered that AEJ Board is not a bureaucratic structure, that all issues could be posed and that it is an open discussion and no need to be stuck in the agenda.

Minutes from the GA

Tibor asked the first sentence from the Minutes from the GA held in 2018 to be deleted or edit, as he doesn’t agree with the meaning that there was a delay and that the SG and the Greek section didn’t prepare the materials in time. Saia clarified that the printed materials were present but they were due to be delivered and that the meaning of the first sentence in the Minutes is not correct. Luigi also proposed the first sentence to be put out. Javier proposed the minutes to be edit by elected members of the Board before sending the minutes to the membership. Irina asked whether it is good the Board to made, edit and approve the minutes from the GA as it could be seen as autocratic and membership should be involved in the process, having in mind that taking notes is not an easy duty during the GA and it is good that somebody volunteered for this.

Lieven quoted the Statutes that to approve the Minutes of the previous GA is up to the next Congress. He also pointed out that every time the issue of communication appears and it is still a frustration= According to him the beginning of the GA was problematic and that there are some obligations for the Secretary general according to the Internal Regalement and that the agenda for the GA should be distributed to the membership well in advance.

Otmar proposed – 60 days ahead of a GA to have a draft agenda+invitation
Javier mentioned that it is a good idea to have a kind reminder a week ahead and a week before the GA to be the deadline to proposals for the topics.


There was short discussion on weather it is good to keep the Newsletter format or just to update the website and to inform the membership (national sections) on the new items on the website. Finally it was agreed that twice per year it is good to have a Newsletter – one before the summer break and one after (?) the GA.

Reports from Otmar and Tibor

(They could add the texts, as due to the breaking news the time was running out.)

Report by Luigi

Last year AEJ collected more fees, due to the election year and it is understandable.  Final amount was Euro 5,970 for 2018 as the provision was Euro 4,300 on the base of 2017. This year 2019 will be again less, as there will be no elections.  Actual Balance – at the end of the year –  about euro 13,000. Coming to expenses, AEJ Int. supported Congress participation of Cypriot and Albanian delegates paying Euro 860 out of the planned 2,000. A special thank to the Greek section which managed finding sponsorship for an excellent congress.
As in the past AEJ Int.  can support participation of delegates coming from less favoured sections/countries up to Euro 2,000 in 2019.
Other expenses include Euro 600 each for the President’s and the SG’s offices, British section dedicate their fee (600) to cover costs of Media Freedom representative,
Finally 958 are administrative, IT and Board costs for 2018.
Luigi also remembered AEJ annual fee is 15 Euro per member of each section. Poland with only 2 members paid 30 Euro. Some new sections and the section organising the congress are as usual exempted.  Unfortunately National sections tend to send the fee at the very last moment before the congress. The treasurer did send multiple invitation to pay.

New legislation in Belgium

Lieven introduced us to the new legislation in Belgium that concerns the statutes of AEJ.

In Belgium there is a new law on associations and there are new definitions of NGO’s. The transitional period is 2021. So after the next Congress or at latest in 2020 AEJ will need to change the Statutes and to register this change together with the new Board. The new taxes will be annually 50 EURO.

He also said that it is not normal that only him Lieven and Tibor are the names given in the Monitor Belge. All the Board members present gave their names, addresses and birthdates to Lieven for this reason.

Luigi asked why he was invited to pay 129 (?) EURO to Moniteur Belge? The invitation was on 21 January 2019 from Niels Schreuder. Tibor suggested asking Peter Kramer.

Luigi said he needs the exact e-mail of the exact auditors. There was a dispute over Mike Springate’s audit report that was presented during the GA. It was different in many points from what he did send out to the sections before.

Question of reduction or exemptions for certain sections:

– The section that organizes the Congress
– Early years of membership – new sections – Bosnia, Albania and Cyprus
– People paying “self fee” – Poland and Turkey
– Once again was reaffirmed that proxy votes will not be calculated for election (?)
– Poor sections – open question

Irina asked about the definition of the poor section and gave (with a lot of uneasiness) the example with the GDP and annual average salary of a journalist in Bulgaria /bottom position in EU/. The membership fee for the official Union of Bulgarian Journalists is 4 euro (8 Leva for the working journalists) compared to 15 EURO for AEJ that every member is obliged to give to the big AEJ. There is no other way but the contribution of one or other section could be discussed was said by several Board members.

Paris Congress

What kind of financial support could be given by AEJ to the French (and possible Belgium section)?
Should the members pay more as a fee for the Congress or the 120 Euro per 2 (or 3?) nights will be kept.

Lieven gave the example with the active contribution on co-organizing the Paris Congress by the Belgium section and asked for reduction of the fee, as in the case of 2019 Congress two sections will do the whole organization.

Tibor pointed out that Slovak section was never exempted – for any Board meeting or Executive Committee.

Otmar mentioned that the French section has a problem accepting money/sponsorship from big corporations like Google or other USA companies when press-freedom issues are addressed..

Lieven asked could French section use 2000 Euro from the reserve?

Saia notes that the Greek section never asked the big AEJ to help.

Lieven mentioned that the Belgium section is co-organizing the Congress and in difference to the French section they do accept sponsorship. On 6 of December the meeting will be in UNESCO, on 7 of December it will be in the House of Jean Monet and public and private sponsors could be involved, especially if for instance the US Ambassador in Brussels was invited – it could bring the attention of the press as well due to the important issue of the transatlantic relations that would interest the media.

Irina said that during a media visit to German public media, she talked with Hendrik Sittig, the director of the KAS Media Program for South Eastern Europe for possible cooperation with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung for the Congress. The Media program of KAS is doing a special focus on Public Media in South Europe, and profound analysis and special reports on the challenges in front of the public media. He might be invited to the Congress a s a panelist. Lieven said that after this he might approach the Burro for financial support. Irina will contact Dr. Sittig for the initial talk on possible invitation and will copy Otmar, Lieven, Veronique and William.

The Issue of “Press” ID

Do the national section deliver to their members Press ID.

Lieven said it is not allowed, so the ID card issued by national sections should not have “Press” written.
Saia pointed out that the laws are different and in some countries only registered journalists could work as journalists and in this case they are approved to have “press”.
Lieven said that it might be good someone to get a mandate to contact with the national sections and ask for facts – to research the situation
Otmar – it might be good – and these are two different things – the press cards on one hand and the general situation on the other hand. It could be good to know how the national sections are functioning, are they unions, in some countries there are ties between Unions and AEJ sections, or with the clubs of Foreign correspondents…

The discussion was ended with the early arrival of Paul Rubig, one of the invited guests, former MEP within EPP, an influential political personality – and there was a lively discussion with him about Strache case…and EU.

He presented some important initiatives for battling fake news with science – and the option to keep some seats for training with the Science Media Hub created by him.

Honorable Membership?

Ideas on involving Business in AEJ Activities. After MEP Paul Rubig left Lieven and Otmar pointed out that it might be a good idea to invite a personality like Paul Rubig who will be back in business to become an Honorable Member of AEJ.

This idea could be widen and AEJ could envision a certain role for the business people as Associate Members or Honorable members.
There is an important question – what is a role of business today for responsible journalism?

We also discussed the option to ask for subsidies from EU budget for AEJ – especially Creative Europe program that has 1 million EURO for 7 years (?).

Lieven said he might make a contact and invite EJTA – European Journalism Training Association to observe the Paris congress. This org has representatives in all EU member states. They will have a congress in July in Paris.

Final guest was Ulrike Lunacek (former MEP (Greens) and Vice-President of EP). We talked about EU-issues like enlargement with focus on the Balkan region.

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