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History

On 12 March 1953, the first issue of the daily news bulletin "Europe" was published, and we are therefore celebrating our sixty-fifth anniversary. This is a ripe old age for a press agency, but is not extraordinary in and of itself: older news agencies exist, some of them much older. What is unusual about us is that we are exactly as old as the first European Community, the forerunner of today's European Union.

In July 1952, the Paris Treaty came into force, giving rise to the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), and it was at the beginning of 1953 that the "ECSC levy" started being applied, the first European tax. In February 1953, the coal and steel markets were opened up to the six participating countries. This moment marked the end of prehistory and the beginning of history for the united Europe, and Agence Europe's newsletter took on its role of closely following developments in Europe's history from one day to the next.

To understand the breadth of intuition of the founder of Agence Europe (Lodovico Riccardi) and its first Director (Emanuele Gazzo), one has to remember that at the time, nobody knew what went on in Luxembourg at the headquarters of the ECSC High Authority: a handful of press releases, very rare articles in a few newspapers, ignorance and lack of interest in public opinion. A small group of people did, however, understand the historical significance of the creation of this supranational authority that had sovereign governance, on behalf of its Member States, over the two products that underlay arms production at the time and constituted the true arsenal of industrialised countries. This event put a definitive end to the possibility of war between participating countries, changing the history of Europe and of the world forever. The first supranational institution with decision-making powers was therefore accompanied by an independent press agency, making it accountable for its actions and putting its decisions in the public arena. This was the challenge facing Emanuele Gazzo and his team. A commentary, in the form of a daily editorial, would soon be added to the news items.

Since then, the history of Agence Europe has been inseparable from the history of European integration: the creation of the EEC and Euratom, the accession of the countries that have gradually joined the initial core of Six, the series of treaties. Even in terms of information, the current situation is completely different from back in 1953. There are now more foreign press associations in Brussels than anywhere else in the world, and Community documents are available to all: thousands upon thousands of pages that it is difficult for anybody to keep up with. If we were to give our Agency slogans, the slogan in 1953 would have been: If you want to know what the European Community does, you should read Agence Europe. Today, it would be more like: If you want guidance in the avalanche of documents produced by the EU institutions every day, if you want to separate out the essential from the accessory, if you want to understand the significance of decisions, agreements and also of disagreements, you should read Agence Europe.

Our cartoonist Malt

11th December 2018