“Media dimension is an important element in the building of democracy”

Dorothée Moutiez from Lille in Northern France is one of the two EVS volunteers in the Berlin office of Citizens of Europe. She arrived in May, will stay for twelve months and is particularly involved in our media related activities. Jürgen Tobisch talked with her about her motives, interest and experience – and about her perception of Europe. 

Why did you decide for an internship in an European organization? I decided because my Masters in journalism was focused on European affairs. During the year, we were always dealing with European topics and issues and we were strongly connected to European institutions in Brussels, we met with the DG communication team for example. So for me it was just a logical choice to continue working with this topic. My Masters involved half practical learning and half theoretical subjects like political sciences, history, economics, etc, so there was always a European dimension. I found Citizens in the database on the website of the European commission in the section concerning the EVS program. There you can find every sending and hosting organization for EVS. I really wanted to go to Berlin and ‘Citizens’ seemed particularly appropriate for me. The description on the website was very big, impressive and detailed and I wanted something connected to my studies. ‘Citizens’ was the best compromise: it deals with European affairs and communication. 

Is it linked to your professional project? Well, last year I had a precise idea about my professional project: to work in international relations, specifically focusing on the political aspect and taking care of communications etc. But to be honest, right now, I don’t have such a defined idea. The only thing about that I am really sure about is that I really need to write in my life, every day, every hour; to analyse events, to give my opinion. That’s why I think I will try to go back towards the sphere of journalism; it is so exciting and fascinating! 

Media is an important element in the building of democracy.

Your mission in Citizens is promoting European media. Could you tell me more about that? It is a fact: not many European media’s exist. But when they do exist, they are not known (and read) by many people. However media is an important element in the building of democracy. When you are a journalist in a traditional kind of publication (national or regional level) it is very very hard to be able to talk about European issues. The section regarding European coverage is very small. Editors of newspapers are strongly convinced that it doesn’t interest readers. Is this true or false? I don’t know, but creating spaces to discuss European affairs could be a first step. You can already find specialised on-line publications but this brings us back to the same question: who reads that? Just the people who are already aware and educated on European issues, others do not know about this kind of European media. Newspapers are supposed to be useful for everyone… 

So what do you think about the OpenFora program? They could answer to this wish of debating? But aren’t they too elitist? Yes, that´s exactly my worry. That’s one of the things I thought when I attended my first OpenForum in Paris last December. From a personal perspective, it’s nice to work in Citizens of Europe; I gain a lot, but I don’t know what or to which people I’m giving. That’s the paradox. Sometimes you really wonder who you are working for. It’s a healthy question to ask, even if it´s a bit confusing. Openfora could be one of my favorite projects: I love travelling, meeting new people and that’s why this program is so attractive for me. People who attend are very interesting and I learn a lot of things from them. 

What is the stronger thing your learned about Europe? I’m very aware of the differences between old Europe and its new members. I think our relationships with Europe are very different, our visions are different. People from Eastern Europe are very enthusiastic, active and involved. They know what they would like to do, what they want to change, they have precise ideas and a good knowledge of European institutions. They are very aware of the difficulties and problems in Europe but they remain optimistic. They are motivated by a challenge and are full of energy; they make an effort to learn a lot of foreign languages, which is totally different from French people! People from old Europe have forgotten what the EU gave us. The countries are richer, for example, it’s easy to be able to study in France, Germany, the Netherlands and so on. In France people don’t feel they need to fight to get what they want because they already have it. If they do fight for something, it’s on a national level but rarely on a European one. They want nothing from the EU! 

What’s about your languages? A big part of my learning here was being able to communicate everyday in English. I wasn’t used to it, I´ve never worked with English as the main language in a job. I was a bit scared about that at the beginning, to pick up the phone, to understand what people wanted from me, etc. As for German, well I studied it for 5 years at school, but I knew, and now I am even surer, I should have worked harder at school!! During my 6 years at university I didn’t have German lessons, but here in Berlin I make an effort, I try to write, speak and communicate in German. I´m living with German people and have a lot of German friends, so that is very helpful! 

What do you expect to learn during the next months? I want to see the process of organising an event, of how to organize a project. It could be interesting to get to know how to manage things, how to make a budget and so on. Sometimes I like practical learning, when you spend 6 years at uni, you feel like you´re missing technical knowledge. After 6 years sat in an ivory tower I need something else, something more connected to reality, I want to do something. 

The more you get to know people from everwhere on the earth, the more you realise it’s really a wonderful thing that we have!

For you, what are the good things working well in Europe? My first impression of Europe came with my Erasmus experience, 4 years ago. Through that I started to get interested in European relations, political problems, etc. I think the Erasmus program is very successful. Others things I like about the EU is the freedom, the possibility to go from one country to another country, and the all European values that come with that… the more you get to know people from everywhere on the earth, the more you realise it’s really a wonderful thing that we have!