On relevant topics we already have European debates

Mr. Krause, there is no world cup or European championship this year. Do you think the elections to the European Parliament can be a good substitute media-wise?

No, not at all. Football is something a lot of people are interested in. It stirs up a lot excitement and emotions. There are clear lines between your guys and the others. European elections cannot deliver that.

Aren’t you bored of these never-ending treaty discussions yourself? What kind of issues should be discussed on the European level instead?

It’s not up to me to say what should be discussed. Political parties have to do that. I am a reporter. My job is to inform people about what is going on. I am not bored by treaty discussions, because they concern the foundations of European politics. I could go on with them until we reach a democratic Europe, a process which we clearly have not successfully completed so far. I would enjoy to see conflicts over European policy, for example on how to make the European Commission more reliable and how to give the people a say. I am convinced we have to work together, that’s without doubt. If you asked me whether I think the political will to do so does really exist, I would say yes. 

Do you think there is both a need and a demand for genuinely European media, distinguished from Europeanized national media like the German broadcasting service?

If there was a demand, we would see it. You cannot force people to watch certain television channels or to read certain newspapers. People look on every issue from their own point of view. We are doing a job for our audience. We have to look with a German perspective on European issues. That does not mean, however, we always have to stick with it. And that is fine with me. The discussion on the European level all too often neglects how national interests are formed and discourses are shaped. Is the Bavarian public interested in fishery policy? Or does someone from Sicilly care about agriculture in the polar regions? Not at all! And why should they care? I suppose that we exaggerate the problem at this point. In case a certain topic does effect each and every European, then we see a European-wide debate already today. The Iraq war was such an issue. Climate policy is certainly not as hot, but clearly a pan-European debate as well. We cannot create a European public space artificially. I believe that on balance people are quite prudent and know quite well what should interest them. Our time is limited, we cannot care about everything happening around us. 

People look on every issue from their own point of view.

Do you enjoy your time in Brussels?

Very much so, yes. To have everyday contacts with people from other countries – and that is the basis of my profession of course – is very rewarding. I wish everybody could share this experience, although this is unfortunately not possible. I think we would appreciate Europe much more then. It’s definitely a privilege to be here. 

Rolf-Dieter Krause is Head of the Brussels studio of the German TV network ARD. The interview was conducted by Gert Röhrborn during the OpenForum Brussels ‘Mobilising Europe’.