A staunch European switches sides

Birgit Schmeitzner moves from the German public broadcaster ARD’s capital office to the Commission’s representation in Germany.

As of today, the press office of the EU Commission Representation in Germany has a new head. Birgit Schmeitzner, the longtime correspondent for Bayerischer Rundfunk in the ARD capital studio, will thus no longer sit with all the questions, as she has in the past, but will have to provide answers and explain EU policy. “That means I will also have to hand over my vanity at the front door,” says Schmeitzner, who has spent more than 20 years in the public eye as a journalist and has more than 11,000 followers on Twitter.

“New job, new role – so the content here will also change,” she wrote on Twitter on Friday. Being even closer to political decisions in the future, translating the information from the commission for journalists – is the challenge that excites her about her new job. In the process, she always wants to be transparent, build trust “and never lie”.

Once a correspondent in Brussels

Schmeitzner, born in 1969, joined Bayerischer Rundfunk’s radio news department in 1998 and has held positions including chief of staff, news anchor, anchorwoman, and deputy news director.

From 2009 to 2014, she worked and lived as a BR correspondent in Brussels, a time she still remembers very vividly: “Brussels is so diverse and dazzling, I really enjoyed living there.” Working as a correspondent, she says, was “terrific”. Thanks to her experience, she has no qualms about interacting with the vast EU apparatus – which will probably make it easier for her to adjust to her new job.

She also felt that her time as a freelance journalist in Moscow until 2016 was enlightening and that it broadened her horizons. Her understanding of how Russian politics works and of “what makes people in Russia tick” now enables her to assess the war and the current situation. In 2014, she was in Ukraine on the Maidan. She still maintains contact with both countries.

Reports on defense policy

This was followed by five and a half years at ARD’s capital city studio in Berlin, where she covered federal politics. Her focus here: defense, agriculture, the Federal President, and the political party AfD. “I am pleased that with Birgit Schmeitzner we have managed to win a highly experienced journalist and excellent connoisseur of German and European politics to head our press department,” says Jörg Wojahn, representative of the European Commission in Germany.

Before starting her new job, Birgit Schmeitzner took a few months off. “I wanted to have some distance and to ask myself whether I am still authentic if I do this.” She answered this question unequivocally in the affirmative. “I feel European through and through.” She is therefore unlikely to have any conflicts of conscience about her change of sides from the one asking questions to the one answering them. Ulrike Christl

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