This time last year Europa United was born and since then it’s been a fantastic journey which has seen us going from a small group of three people to a team of writers from all over Europe. Founding editor Ken Sweeney looks back at the beginnings of our project and gives us a glimpse of what exciting plans are ahead.
It was in September of last year that I decided to set up my own blog. For many years I had been contributing as a features writer with a number of Irish motoring magazines, but I had always held an interest in European issues. Since my teenage years I was fascinated with the concept of a united Europe. I grew up seeing Europe as the European Economic Community, the European Community and finally the European Union. I haven’t always been a die hard supporter, and indeed I had my reservations about Europe as recently as 2008 when my country, Ireland, was in the wake of feeling the brunt of a world wide recession. However, I get the big picture and remain a supporter of the European integration concept.
A quiet beginning
When I met my fellow Europa United founders, Martina Brinkmann and Adam Syngg, on a Facebook discussion group, we quickly realised that we had a common interest in writing something more substantial than comments on Facebook or Twitter. We decided to develop my unused blog into a proper website and start writing articles and opinion pieces about Europe. Our first article was about Britain’s spending on nuclear submarines – a small piece, and probably not the best article to announce our arrival, but I am still proud of it nonetheless. That month we ended with 186 hits to our website and, to be honest, we were delighted that somebody had actually seen what we wrote! But our plan really was to use August as a time to develop the website and our own skills, and once September arrived, we launched Europa United properly.
Our old logos
Very quickly, however, we developed an idea of inviting other writers on board and it was this concept that would be the main mission of our project – to provide an opportunity for volunteer writers to have a credible platform in which they can express themselves and their opinions on European affairs. This allowed us to publish on a regular basis and thus build up our following and give our writers a bigger readership. Our first writer was Stuart Kirk who gave us an excellent review of the 2016 State of the Union Address. Since then we have been publishing articles and opinion pieces every week. They include regular interviews of both public figures and every day citizens with our “In conversation with” and ” European voices” features.
Not all plain sailing
Since our first article, we have made new friends and built up a great network of organisations and individuals, but we have had our detractors. There has been an element within the pro European movement that was not happy with our arrival and has been active in boycotting and ignoring our work. Unfortunately, you get this in every walk of life, and our answer to them is to continue to be as professional as possible, so the door is always open to anybody who wishes to approach us.
However, there are a number of organisations who have supported us from day one, and frankly, we wouldn’t be where we are without them. NGOs like New Europeans, National Federation of Cypriots in The UK, the Union of European Federalists, along with the hugely popular Facebook forum My County? Europe all supported us by republishing or sharing our work from day one, and we wish to thank them from the bottom of our hearts. We hope that we continue to return the favour by helping them to get their messages across.
So here we are one year later and our family has grown along with out readership. Our goal still is to enable our writers to get their work out there and allow Europa United to be an influential factor in the European conversation. We don’t know if we will succeed, but either way, we will enjoy it. Yet we have plans to move beyond the website and in 2018 we will be announcing our first live event which will be held in a major European city – and all are welcome to attend. Details are still in development, but we can say that the event will be informative, interactive, and above all, great fun.
Most importantly, we hope that you, the reader, have enjoyed our work and will continue to support us.
And we also want to remind you that we are always looking for more writers, so if you think you have what it takes to join our team, get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org, giving us some information about yourself and telling us why you would like to join our team.
So, from me and all the team here, thank you for your support.
Editor, Europa United