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What is Brussels talking about (POLITICO Playbook edition)?

Starting Monday, I’ll be a teaching, for the second time, a two-week intensive course European Studies here in Munich, with students from Europe (including Russia), North America, South Korea and Australia.

The course is covering mostly current European politics (elections, lobbying etc.) and European policies (the crisis, migration, climate change etc.), trying to convey what is happening right now in and around Brussels from the perspective of political science.

I also try to bring in my experience from the Brussels bubble. As a former activist with the Transparency International EU Office, I’ve spent my days working on EU lobby regulation, the financing of the European Parliament elections, and for my PhD I looked into EU fisheries policy and distribution of political information across Europe.


The top 200 words in the POLITICO Brussels Playbook newsletters published 1-30 July 2015 (by*

The preparations for the course are much fun, because I’m reading loads of stuff that doesn’t cross my desk every day and I stumble over topics that have clearly run below my radar, and sometimes the radar of the rest of the bubble, too. Last year, I discovered in the preparations that the European Parliament had silently corrected the European Parliament elections turnout figures downwards, which then became news (at least in the bubble).

This year, the students of my course will get the POLITICO Brussels Playbook newsletter as obligatory reading for every day of the course, even though EU politics is rather quiet in Augusts. And POLITICO, which wasn’t around Brussels when I taught the course last year, will also be one of the topics of  one session of my course on the European Public Sphere. We’ll discuss (next week Friday, in the morning) why there are so few European media and what changes there have been in recent years to the European media landscape.

In preparation for that session, I’ve done a little Worldle of all the July Playbooks (see above), and not surprisingly Greece was the big topic this month. Interestingly, the algorithm put “SYRIZA” “WITHOUT” “POWER” right about the very dominant “GREECE” – and now I wonder whether the Wordle actually does more than just randomly place words into a frame…

So Ryan, keep your Playbooks coming during August as promised in the 24 July edition – and don’t hesitate to slip in secret algorithmic messages (like ‘Syriza without power’)  so that my students can try to find them starting Tuesday, the first day that they’ll be reading the Playbook…!

* The Wordle is based on a full copy-paste of the playbook newsletters (incl. special editions on Greece) published from 1 to 30 July, without “Birthdays”, “Deaths”, “Marriages”, “Thanks” and sponsor messages if the were put at the end of the newsletter. Common English words automatically removed by


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