The Brief: Tribute to Ferdinando Riccardi

The Brief is EURACTIV's evening newsletter.

Ferdinando Riccardi, the long serving editor-in-chief of Agence Europe passed away on 22 September, after being a pillar of the Brussels press corps for decades.  Two of EURACTIV’s talking heads contemplate his legacy.

Georgi Gotev, senior editor of

“I was one of the five diplomats who opened the Mission of Bulgaria to the European Communities in 1993. It was very difficult at that time to have contacts and obtain quality information about the Union for a non-member country.

For me the editorials by Ferdinando Riccardi were a treasure of information and wisdom about the Union we wanted to join. I was overwhelmed with his journalistic talent and frankly, I wanted to be like him. I consider him one of my teachers.

Later, I became a journalist and made a documentary film about Jacques Delors for a Bulgarian TV channel. With this experience I realised how close and like-minded these two great people were. I was so lucky to know the ‘Vintage EU’, of which so little has remained. Maybe Juncker is the last Mohican.”

Christophe Leclercq, founder of EURACTIV:

“Debriefing the influence of Ferdinando Riccardi also helps understand the role of the media for Europe. His editorials (and before him Emanuele Gazzo’s) have been a compass for EU circles. During the Delors era everybody read them. But Ferdinando initially saw me as an incarnation of the devil: a non-journalist establishing an online media, accessible for free, thanks to sponsors…

Later, building on Fondation EURACTIV and our European Movement connections, I asked to have lunch with him. Together with his son Lorenzo, Ferdinando and I discovered strong common values. A conference on Rising media stars has just been held, based on the project #Media4EU. Maroun Labaki of the Press Club and I have decided to dedicate it to Ferdinando.

Lasting thoughts from these talks? 

First, one should reflect on European media accompanying EU integration, it’s a condition of democracy. Between the lines of their history, one can see both the missed opportunities and the hopes.

More importantly, the media should serve as a compass, more than ever in times of populism and fake news. The new digital and media Commissioner Mariya Gabriel is setting up a group on fake news: good! Riccardi was a bulwark against fake news. We need more Riccardis, with independent funding for innovation to sustain them.”

The Roundup

In the Digital Wild West, a new sheriff has arrived in town: new EU guidelines ask social media platforms to delete hate speech and other illegal content quicker.

Google under scrutiny by EU competition watchdog, after it was fined for illegally profiting from its price comparison service, Google Shopping.

Abandoning the stick for the carrot: the Commission drops refugee relocation quotas, offering member states money in exchange for taking in refugees legally instead.

“Business as usual”, said the European Court of Auditors, allowing Britain to keep receiving committed EU funds after Brexit.

British Labour leader is rewriting his Brexit narrative – according to Denis MacShane, Britain won’t leave the EU (in the end).

Sharing is caring” according to Croatia, whose health minister said that the EU’s medicines agency should go to countries who have none. Guess how many Zagreb has?

The future of agriculture or GMOs in sheep’s clothing? The Commission is under pressure to revive talks on new plant breeding techniques

The Glyphosate saga continues: the Commission seeks “largest possible support” for renewing the (in)famous herbicide’s licence, but political considerations cool member states’ feet.

It’s international safe and legal abortion day – but reproductive coercion is rising in the EU, writes Caroline Hickson of International Planned Parenthood Europe.

Besides Guinness and Baileys, what’s Ireland’s most (in)famous export? 4,000 abortions per year- but Brussels keep silent. It’s a shame, writes John Hyphen.

EU countries talk the talk but don’t walk the walk on climate change: exploiting loopholes to lower their emission commitments punches holes into the Paris Agreement.

Look out for…

Digital Summit tomorrow in Tallinn- where heads of states will enjoy a concert by Sting

Views are the author’s

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