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  • Writer's pictureStavros Papagianneas

The European Utopia

Why we started with a YouTube Channel

In Europe we don't have a real pan-European public sphere. A pan-European media system does not exist. There are no newspapers that are published in the entire Union like for example the New York Times and the Washington Post in the US. That means that people in Europe are mainly informed by their national media which are different from country to country and have different national perspectives.

Nevertheless, there are some interesting initiatives of pan-European media projects such as , the Leading European Newspaper Alliance (LENA) including eight European media in main European countries with as purpose to improve journalism in the continent, or the Euronews channel and the Euractiv digital news platform.

Europe lacks true European media and a common public sphere . In Germany, for example more media outlets are devoted exclusively to football than news outlets specialising in Europe. The established media mainly focus on Brussels and European institutions - not looking at the continent as a whole and across the borders of the Union.

EU news items are still low on the agenda of editors as readers and viewers find the EU of little interest. Pan-European media cooperation activities between quality media should be encouraged and supported by EU funding.

Euronews and Arte are unique projects underpinning the creation of a European public sphere and a European public opinion. All these initiatives, together with Euractiv, can be considered as genuine pillars for the European integration. They should be sustained together with new initiatives. This type of cooperation should be extended more in the audiovisual sector and digital media.

The majority of the people in Europe rely on their national press for their daily information. Therefore, the content of EU communication should be adapted to local cultures and take account of national issues.

However, we can say - although there is not a real European public sphere - that there is a kind of trans-European public space that already exists in Europe and has been created by the EU policies. It consists not only out of EU-related news coverage, but also out of trans-European networks of political parties, civil society organisations, think tanks and policy research institutes which are themselves not always open to other discourses. Those channels of communication are even important as media does.

Therefore, after the publication of Rebranding Europe and the foundation of Steps4Europe, we decided to start with STP TV. A YouTube channel with as purpose to focus on Europe as a whole, look beyond the national borders and contribute to a public understanding of the added value of the EU. With the channel we would like to contribute in a humble way in the development of a common public sphere. And provide EU-related information about what is happening in Brussels and the European capitals, in a clear and informal way.

In his book Utopia published in 1516, Thomas More describes an ideal imaginary island state. The name originates from the Greek words ou (not) and topos (place). Utopia can be translated as Nowhere. The wordplay has probably been invented by Erasmus, a close friend of More, who has hugely influenced him. The book describes the political, social and religious habits of the people of Utopia and can be considered as a criticism towards the Europe of his time. The book was so popular that a new literary genre was created, the utopian novel.

Since the beginning of the eurocrisis ten years ago, the EU has experienced a series of challenges, including Brexit, the coronavirus pandemic, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the refugee crisis. I believe that this era of crises will continue for some years. Geopolitical rivalries, accelerating global warming and economic and social inequalities are responsible for a complicated environment than the EU has ever faced.

The key question will be how the union can develop the necessary solidarity and cohesion to survive. In March 2027, the EU will celebrate its 70th anniversary, when the Treaty of Rome was signed. Is it utopian to believe that the member states will succeed in accomplishing the European project in a few years and reaffirm the commitment to a stronger and sustainable Union? A Union with the involvement of all the EU countries that share the need to continue on the path to integration based on shared values and ideas of its founders?

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