Javier Moreno, Editor-in-Chief of El País and Member of the Advisory Board of Atomium-EISMD

During the opening session of the public launch and first conference of Atomium-EISMD Mr Javier Moreno, Editor-in-Chief of El País introduces the perspectives of the newspapers. Listen to his speech.


Mr Honorary President, Mr President, Monsieur le Ministre, ladies and gentlemen, it’s an honour and a pleasure to be here. As Editor in chief of the Spanish Journal El Pais, I am addressing you on behalf of the European newspapers which have joined Atomium-EISMD, initiative that has brought us together here today.

Although I run a newspaper, you may be surprised by the fact that I am no journalist by training at University, neither did I study any specialty which usually leads afterwards to journalism in a natural way, nor sociology, political science, philology or any languages either dead or alive. I am a chemist by training, which I guess makes me a happy choice for standing here before you today. I have to confess that I even worked four long years as a chemist before forsaking it for journalism. Four long years dedicated to research applied to industry, of which one was spent in a Spanish company and the other three in Germany at a European chemical giant.

Does all this give me special authority, any specific know-how entitling me to speak to you today about the challenges that we all face: researchers, companies, newspapers and the European society at large? No, it does not. Yet, there is something I would like to share here today: labs and newsrooms in which I have spent almost twenty-five years of professional experience have taught me the same lesson you have also learned, the hard way most of the times: a well done job requires minute, intensive, painstaking work with plenty of attention to detail; it may be a reactive mixture, when you speak chemistry; an eye-catching headline when you speak journalism, or again a complex analysis, well that applies both for chemistry and journalism and at the end of the day you achieve your goal, you understand a little bit the problem you have been working on in one case, or you put a polish newspaper out on a news stand in the other. I cannot imagine in any other way the task we all face. Actually I cannot picture the construction of a future for Europe in any other way.

Ten years ago, the European Union decided that “before the year 2010 Europe should become the first economic and technology power in the world”. Well, last time I checked we were not the first economic and technology power in the world and we all agree that we won’t make it in the remaining 34 days for the deadline. Now, the Lisbon Agenda has not been fulfilled. Felipe Gonzalez, the former Spanish Prime Minister asked a very simple question a few days ago at the forum on the future of Europe held in Madrid: is there any chance of Europe declaring that this has not been achieved and of our doing something other than what is done in the last ten years? I doubt it, said Gonzalez, and I would add: absolutely no chance.

So, the first lesson I think we should draw is the following: let’s forget please about the big words and all the hot-air rhetoric; after all those years maybe it’s interesting make a short list of things we should be aware of in the years to come – I promise it won’t be long.

First: let’s not further debate, it’s better to get going.
Stop rethinking the way: why not just go ahead.
Don’t try rewriting the social contract: let’s make the best of the one we have.
Don’t change the structure: let’s take advantage of what we’ve already got.
We don’t need any more tools, we need the will to use them.
We don’t need a single policy on anything on the size of tomatoes on how to treat pigs en route to the slaughterhouse, not because they aren’t important issues, but because each country can take care of them and because Europe is not a place renowned for having many people who mistreat pigs and certainly there is not shortage of states and governments concerned about the size of tomatoes.
We need instead to concentrate our efforts in a few areas that will set the difference, where our union will set the difference: research is one of those areas.

We, the newspapers that have joined Atomium-EISMD, will do our job; we know how to do it and we are willing to do it. The same applies to researchers and companies in this room and all this for the success for this substantial initiative. But Europe as a whole needs to take a big leap forward especially in one field: will power, political will. We already know how to do things, now it’s just a matter of wanting to do them and taking all the European point of view and that’s no small task. Thank you very much.