This week marks the launch of the Guardian’s new digital European edition. From Wednesday, readers in 45 European countries will be automatically sent to a dedicated English-language homepage on the site and in the app for a “uniquely-Guardian take on Europe and the world”. It will be the Guardian’s fifth edition – the first new one in almost a decade – joining the UK, US, international and Australia editions.
It launched with an exclusive investigation into air pollution in Europe, which revealed 98% of people are living in areas with highly damaging fine particulate pollution that exceed World Health Organization guidelines. Almost two-thirds live in areas where air quality is more than double the WHO’s guidelines (you can search for your location here in this nifty interactive map). Ajit Niranjan, our new Europe environment correspondent, travelled to Skopje in North Macedonia – one of the worst affected regions – where people said the air tastes like “burnt plastic”.
At a time when many newsrooms are struggling, the Guardian is expanding its reach and deepening its journalism. “Our coverage of Europe will go beyond the latest news to provide insights and ideas; to tell stories that are not being told,” writes our editor-in-chief Katharine Viner, with new specialists in crucial Europe-wide themes, such as the environment, culture, community affairs and sport added to our already expansive roster of reporters.
For today’s newsletter, I spoke to the Guardian’s associate editor for Europe, Katherine Butler, about the reasons behind this launch, and why more coverage of the continent is so important. That’s right after the headlines.
Five big stories
Environment | Rishi Sunak’s U-turn on climate commitments has prompted furious condemnation from the automobile and energy industries. The prime minister has pushed back the deadline for selling new petrol and diesel cars and the phasing out of gas boilers, in an attempt to close the gap with Labour before the next general election.
Police | A Metropolitan police firearms officer has been charged with the murder of 24-year-old Chris Kaba, who was shot dead last September in south London. The officer, known only as NX121 at this stage, will appear before magistrates later today.
Media | Channel 4 boss Alex Mahon has said the allegations against comedian and presenter Russell Brand show how “terrible behaviour” against women has been tolerated in the television industry.
Politics | One of the Conservatives’ biggest ever donors has profited from £135m of contracts with the Department of Health and Social Care in under four years. Frank Hester, a healthcare tech entrepreneur whose company supplies computer systems to the NHS, gave Rishi Sunak’s party £5m this summer, the joint biggest donation to the Tories in decades.
Society | From attitudes to gay sex and single parenting to views on abortion and the role of women in the home, Britain has evolved into a dramatically more liberal-minded country over the past four decades. The transformation in public opinion on many social and moral issues is captured in the latest British social attitudes survey
In depth: ‘We’re already deeply embedded in Europe – the idea is to do more’
Nearly 40% of people in the European Union either speak English or are proficient at some level. Despite the UK’s decision to leave the EU, the relationship between the UK and the continent is still deeply connected. And the Guardian’s commitment to covering Europe has never wavered – from the small boats crisis to the growing impact of the climate crisis, there is a clear need for a perspective that makes sense of the connections between these issues.
“When we talk about ‘Europe’ in our journalism we of course include the UK,” Katherine says. UK readers won’t automatically be directed to the new European edition “but we should always think of the UK as culturally and politically a part of Europe. Obviously Brexit could not take Britain geographically out of Europe. And at the Guardian, we are not outsiders looking in – we are of Europe too”.
In many ways, the Guardian has been a European newspaper for 200 years. “We’ve got a long history of covering Europe,” says Katherine. “We had a correspondent reporting the Franco-Prussian war in 1870 who at one point, had to file his dispatch using a balloon. It probably never made it back to the news desk, but it says something about our heritage and how committed we are.”
Our journalists no longer need to rely on balloons or carrier pigeons to file reports to their editors, and although the methods and tools might have changed – the Guardian has persisted in its commitment to Europe by establishing a network of world-class correspondents, editors, reporters and columnists. “We’re already deeply embedded in reporting the news thanks to our correspondents dotted around Europe. But this venture is about involving every section in doing even more for our millions of readers across the continent,” Katherine says.
Why is the Guardian launching a new Europe edition?
The Guardian has seen consistent and significant growth in its readership across Europe since 2016 – I wonder what happened in that year?
“It was natural that because of Brexit there was going to be a particular international focus on the UK and its relationship with the EU – but what we noticed was that the readers who came to us to find out about Brexit didn’t leave,” Katherine says. Even when the Brexit debate inevitably dropped down the news agenda, readers based elsewhere in Europe remained engaged with the Guardian’s journalism across the board. Support from readers in Europe is now three and half times what it was seven years ago. “This is why we want to show our commitment and to thank these readers for their support,” Katherine says.
Crucially, the point is not to replicate local or national news outlets – the Guardian instead wants to add another layer, to become the primary English-language news source, providing the trusted international perspective that our European audiences tell us they need.
What will be different
The Europe edition is a destination on the website and app for readers across continental Europe, who will be automatically directed there – and for anyone else that would like that as their primary prism on the day’s news. The new site will sit alongside the UK, US and international fronts, catering specifically for Guardian readers in Europe.
The aim is to provide an international context and help connect up issues that are global in nature: wildfires, the refugee crisis, drought, the surge of far-right populism. “We will provide the big picture, the context to why this is happening,” Katherine says.
The Guardian is also investing in its editorial capacity across the continent. “What’s different about the new roles is that they’re specialised in their own beat. They’re not assigned to a particular country or region, they’re instead focusing on stories about the environment, culture, sport and community affairs right across Europe,” Katherine says. As a result, the coverage will be both granular when necessary and thematically cohesive.
“We should also get away from the idea that we will only cover political news. We really want to deepen the texture of what we do, to reflect Europe in all its variation,” Katherine adds.
The next steps
With the volatile and changing geopolitical situation in Europe following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which the Guardian has been consistently reporting on since the start of the war, it makes sense now more than ever to increase and deepen coverage in Europe.
“A lot of old assumptions about the post cold war security order are being re-evaluated,” Katherine says. “The war in Ukraine is an existential issue for many of our readers in central and eastern Europe and in the Baltic states – and that’s why it’s really important that we provide original and accessible journalism that illuminates the issues.”
From the European edition
Populist parties | Almost one-third of Europeans now vote for populist, far-right or far-left parties, new research shows, with support for anti-establishment politics posing an increasingly problematic challenge to the mainstream.
Space race: Reporting from the Esrange Space Center in northern Sweden, Daniel Boffey finds that Sweden is quietly winning Europe’s next big space race aiming to be the first European space base outside Russia to launch a satellite into orbit.
France | The French government has defended the arrest of a teenage boy in the middle of class over claims of bullying a transgender classmate, a rare move that angered many pupils and parents despite widespread support for a crackdown on harassment.
What else we’ve been reading
It’s all in the name. Matthew Cantor explores how names go extinct with US experts explaining what makes a name desirable one decade and dated the next. Nazia Parveen, acting deputy newsletters editor
The schools crisis is not restricted to the UK, as Rokhaya Diallo writes: French pupils have started the new term with 3,000 teaching posts unfilled, while state education in France is among the most unequal in the developed world. The government’s response? A manufactured panic about Muslim pupils’ dress (above). Tim Burrows, newsletters team
Liverpool’s Riverside district has been identified by a Ramblers’ report as the worst in England and Wales for pedestrians. Hannah Moore takes a walk in the city to investigate the barriers for walkers. Nazia
Mayonnaise is many things, but a primary sandwich spread it ain’t. Unless you are in the US, where, as Arwa Mahdawi explains, a TikToker has highlighted American distaste for butter, opening a new front in US-European relations: the beurre war. Tim
All aboard the Luxembourg express! In 2020, in a bid to cut carbon emissions, Luxembourg made all its public transport free. But what is it like to use? Steve Rose finds out. Nazia
Football | Arsenal overwhelmed PSV Eindhoven, with their 4-0 win setting them up for a swift qualification from Group B. Manchester United fought to the end, but two late goals in their match against Bayern Munich wasn’t enough to see them to victory, with the home side walking away with a 4-3 win.
Rugby | Another commendable Uruguay performance wasn’t enough to secure victory in their World Cup match against Italy, as the europeans wore down the South American side with precise tactical kicking, powerful carrying and, most notably, an admirable willingness to run the ball from all over, to end up 38-17.
Cricket | Joe Root’s bid to have one final hit before England’s World Cup departure was thwarted by a sodden outfield and what proved a maddening abandonment at Headingley. Boos rang around the ground when the first one-day international against Ireland was called off at 4.50pm without a ball bowled.
The front pages
Rishi Sunak’s U-turn on the government’s climate commitments dominates the front pages on Thursday. The Guardian leads with “Green bonfire as PM rows back on net zero targets”. The Times calls it “Sunak’s green targets gamble”, while the i similarly characterises the move as “Sunak’s net zero election gamble”.
The FT reports “Sunak sparks business backlash after U-turn on net zero pledges”. The Telegraph says “Sunak spares public net zero pain”, while the Mail takes a similar line with “I’ll spare families ruinous cost of net zero, vows Rishi”. The Sun has labeled the move a campaign victory for the paper, under the headline “Given us a brake!”.
Finally, the Mirror reports that veterans are fighting for access to decades old medical records, with the headline “End 70 years of nukes cover-up”.
Today in Focus
Rishi Sunak’s net zero U-turn
Rishi Sunak has announced a major policy shift, rowing back on some of the government’s net zero policies that impose a direct cost on consumers, as the Conservatives attempt to create a dividing line with Labour before the next election.
As our political correspondent Kiran Stacey tells Nosheen Iqbal on a chaotic day in Westminster, the plans amount to delaying a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and watering down the phasing out of gas boilers. Sunak also dropped proposals for new energy-efficiency targets for private rented homes.
Cartoon of the day | Ben Jennings
A bit of good news to remind you that the world’s not all bad
Standing at 6ft 7in, Democratic senator John Fetterman is easy to pick out among the US Senate’s faceless suits. The Pennsylvania politician is also most often seen in hoodies, shorts and trainers in the senate corridors, and his uber-casual style has made him the target of Republican colleagues who argue he’s dragging down the standards of the hallowed institution.
However, style experts tell the Guardian’s Alaina Demopoulos that they couldn’t disagree more – and argue that perhaps more politicians should dress like normal people.
“Dress codes everywhere are relaxing,” says one. “It’s cool that if the people who represent us choose to take advantage of these new rules, it will potentially better reflect the people they represent.”
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