Tireless in his advocacy for a new and united Europe, Jean Monnet’s conviction rested in a need for more than cooperation between States: above all, we must build union among people. By creating a greater space for information across traditionally separate parts of Europe, Political Critique contributes to increased dialogue and understanding and to the emergence of a genuine transnational public sphere. For this work, it is recognised as the first runner-up to the 2018 edition of the Jean Monnet Prize.
Set up by two civil society media organisations, Political Critique is both a pan-European online magazine and an open, multilingual syndication platform. At the heart of this project is Krytyka Polityczna, a Polish NGO and publishing house working to promote European values and an open society in the difficult context of the Visegrad countries. In 2017, Krytyka Polityczna joined hands with European Alternatives, a civil society organisation promoting European integration by fostering people-to-people contact, and organising large-scale activities, trainings, and advocacy. The partnership created a genuinely pan-European editorial team able to influence the European media environment.
What sets Political Critique apart from similar endeavours is its strong grounding in Eastern European Member States – with headquarters in Warsaw, Poland, and a wide network of correspondents and readers across Central and Eastern Europe. But the project also seeks to extend across the entire Union, as a syndication platform making content available free of charge and facilitating translations.
Of course, these two elements are closely interconnected, as media outlets rarely have the funds, language capabilities and connections to cover developments beyond the larger countries of the Union – or the desire to commit their resources to this purpose. Local or citizen-driven stories from the Balkans and published in the local or national press, for instance, are unlikely to find a strong echo in Western European media.
Building on a strong network of partners across Central and Eastern Europe, Political Critique therefore facilitates the coverage of lesser known stories and points of view, allowing a more nuanced and detailed understanding of the situation of countries in the wider European region, thereby rectifying a traditional Western-centric bias.
Covering a wide range of mainstream topics – politics, international affairs, migration, culture – Political Critique also strives to think across border and explore less-travelled roads, including drug policy, municipal issues, or engaged art forms. New stories promote an assumed progressive social viewpoint and the vision of a united Europe. In order to help spread these ideas beyond a closed circle of intellectuals, Political Critique also creates short audio-visual material in multiple languages in order to reach a wider and more diverse audience.
As such, Talk Real, the audio-visual arm of Political Critique, broadcasts livestreams, round-table debates and short video interviews from events, actions and mobilisations happening across Europe. It is a nomadic, transnational broadcast, working with local camera operators and technicians to establish a transnational network of filmmakers, and where the episodes are connected with current events and are often filmed in the context of important cultural or political events.
Finally, Political Critique’s geographic location is an essential part of its nature. With the rise of nationalism across Europe, civil society actors and democratic initiatives of all kinds are muffled. Political Critique’s unique pan-European magazine – in an area usually considered peripheral and equated with right wing nationalism – is a breath of fresh air. Combining values of an open society, of European integration, and a direct implementation of a transnational public sphere and vision, Political Critique represents acts as a catalyst for a more united, integrated and democratic Europe.
Political Critique has developed partnerships with a media network of more than twenty magazines from different European countries, including Internazionale (Italy), A2larm (Czech Republic), Balkanist (Balkan region), Pikara magazine (Spain), Kettős Mérce (Hungary), openDemocracy (UK), CTXT (Spain), La Grieta (Spain), Pole (Slovakia), PC Ukraine (Ukraine), Senso Comune (Italy), Athens LIVE (Greece), Hulala (France), Isles of the Left (Malta), The Press Project (Greece), Katoikos.eu (panEuropean), Novara media (UK), Dokuz8News (Turkey), Eurozine (panEuropean), Are We Europe (panEuropean) Kosovo 2.0 (Kosovo), IlSalto (Italy), mosaik Blog (Austria), InfoAut (Italy) and Zemos 98 (Spain). The joint editorial team works on a daily basis from Warsaw, Berlin, and Rome, and weekly calls are organized with European partners, from Lisbon to Kyiv.
A second runner-up will be disclosed on 8 November and the official winner of the 2018 edition of the Jean Monnet Prize will be announced on 9 November, anniversary of Jean Monnet’s birth.