ASSOCIATION OF EUROPEAN  JOURNALISTS

UNITED KINGDOM SECTION

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UK Section Secretary's annual report for 2015

The UK section has maintained a healthy membership level of 40 paid-up members in 2015, plus three honorary members. We have kept up our co-operative links with the Foreign Press Association in London, the Commonwealth Journalists Association and others. We offer reduced £10 membership and lunchtime events fees to journalists up to the age of 25 years, and discretionary free entry to journalism students.

Members are encouraged to support efforts to attract more young journalists to attend AEJ meetings. UK Section Chairman William Horsley has made a fresh approach to City University to invite some of its international journalism students to come. Other initiatives would be welcome, through consultation with the Chairman and Secretary.

Our lunchtime meetings have reflected the past turbulent year for Europe, including the often fierce debate about the UK’s forthcoming In/Out referendum on membership of the EU, the refugees and migration crisisdescribed by some as an existential threat to “the European project” – as well as the threats to UK and European security from the worsening conflicts in the Middle East.

Among the highlights of our monthly lunchtime meetings with newsmakers were those with David McAllister, Chancellor Merkel’s point-man for dealing with the UK over the key issues in its ongoing renegotiation of EU membership terms, and Eugenio Ambrosi, the head of European operations for the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), who spoke out about the failings of European policies and actions in response to the great inflow of refugees and migrants into Europe. He warned that moves to build impassable barriers at Europe’s external borders as well as erecting walls and barriers between EU states would fail to halt the inflow. Instead, he called for a more open and enlightened set of common policies. Igor Sutyagin, who was part of a much-publicised “spy swap” in 2010, gave us his extraordinary insights into Russian military and political strategy towards Ukraine and Russia’s “near abroad”.

 

 

Our lunchtime guest speakers since the last report were:

David McAllister, German MEP, and Chancellor Merkel’s envoy for relations with the UK

Dominic Grieve MP QC, Chairman of the Commons Intelligence and Security Committee and former Attorney General: Human Rights in Europe

Eugenio Ambrosi, European Regional Head of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) 

Richard Howitt MEP, member of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee: Why Britain should stay in the EU

Dr Igor Sutyagin, Royal United Services Institute research fellow, exiled Russian expert on arms control: Russian political and military strategy on Ukraine

Richard Barrett, adviser on counter-terrorism measures, formerly in the UK security service

Lord (Mark) Malloch-Brown, Former Deputy UN Secretary-General and Minister at the FCO: The UN’s Post-2015 Millennium Goals

Pat McFadden MP, Shadow Minister for Europe

Robert Tombs, Professor of Modern European History, Cambridge University; author of The English and Their History and That Sweet Enemy (300 years of Anglo-French relations)

 

 

Other activities

AEJ members supported a public petition against the UK government’s proposals in the Extremism Bill to give Ofcom unprecedented powers of prior censorship over the editorial content of broadcasters’ coverage, and took part in numerous events and debates on topical issues in London, including a debate about the UK’s place in Europe organised by the European Movement (London branch).

On 2 November, the UK held the first public event to mark the UN-declared International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists. William Horsley co-organised and co-chaired the debate, with Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste as well as the deputy Director-General of UNESCO and other prominent speakers, at the UK Parliament.  

The current office-holders of the AEJ UK Section are (elected):

Chairman : William Horsley

Secretary: Margaret Hughes

Treasurer: Mike Springate

With support from:

Events Director: David Lennon

Website Manager: Celia Hampton

More details of AEJ UK events, meetings, news and blogs & briefings are published on the UK Section website, www.aej-uk.org, as well as useful links to items of special interest on the international AEJ website www.aej.org

 Margaret Hughes, Secretary AEJ UK

29 January 2016