On 12, 13, and 14 May 2024, with the support of the German Publishers and Booksellers Association, and within the framework of Creative Europe project Aldus Up, the Federation of European Publishers welcomed 20 young publishing professionals for the third edition of the Young Publishing Professionals in Brussels (YPPiB) Programme. The participants reached Brussels from 11 different countries, including one Ukrainian guest, Anna Yefimenko, Head of Marketing at the Ukrainian publishing house “Ranok”. Her participation was financed by the scholarship “Julián Viñuales”, established by FEP in memory of their esteemed colleague and friend Julián.

The event featured meetings with members of FEP and its Brussels team, encounters with representatives of the European Institutions, sessions on FEP’s EU-funded projects, debates on Artificial Intelligence and the social pressure for publishers, visits to the European Parliament and the House of European History, and exchanges with MEPs’ assistants. A comprehensive programme, which provided a vibrant overview of the European publishing scene to a young international audience united by their European identity!

The two days conference was preceded by a networking dinner on Sunday 12 May, when, in an informal context, the YPPs had the chance to meet each other for the first time. David Ek, Cultural Attaché at the Swedish Permanent Representation of the EU, also attended the evening and met with the young publishing professionals.


Day 1 – AI, social pressure for publishers and visit to the European Parliament

The various sessions were hosted by the Representation of the State of Hessen to the EU. During the first day, the YPPs were greeted by Silke Malorny, Head of Unit at the Representation. After FEP Director Anne Bergman-Tahon’s welcome and outline of the programme, the agenda kicked off with a presentation of how the European legislative process works. It was done by Angelika Brüls, responsible for Stakeholders relations and events at the Directorate-General for Communication of the European Parliament. Then, the YPPs listened to an explanation of the FEP activities and role of representation of the European book publishing sector, given by the FEP team in Brussels.

Afterwards, the young publishers discussed two topical issues in the publishing industry: Artificial Intelligence and the social pressure for publishers, notably regarding the rise of the extreme right in Europe, hatred and fake news spreading on social media and outside, and the risks that they pose to crucial values for the publishing sector, such as freedom to publish and freedom of expression. The publishers engaged passionately with the two topics; after splitting into three groups and discussing them separately, a rapporteur for each group presented their findings.

In the afternoon, the YPPs visited the European Parliament, where they were guided by Benjamin Feyen, Secretary General of the Cultural Creators Friendship Group of the European Parliament, and Ievgeniia Razumkova Dufour, assistant of MEP Sabine Verheyen (EPP, Germany, Chair of the Culture and Education Committee). Before the tour, the YPPs met with Hanna-Liisa Glaser and Franziska Neher from the Directorate-General for Logistics and Interpretation for Conferences (DG LINC) of the EP. During this session, not only did the YPPs have the chance to discover the essential work carried out by the interpreters, providing simultaneous interpretation during meetings in all EU official languages, they could also experience the intensity of this work during a mock-up session in the interpretation booths of the EP.

In the evening, the participants had the opportunity to network with representatives of other European associations, MEPs’ assistants and Commission officials. Notably, the YPPs met and exchanged with Claudia Russo (International Association of Scientific, Technical, and Medical Publishers), Tora Åsling (European and International Booksellers Federation), Benjamin Feyen(CCFJ Secretary General), Julia Kasten (assistant of MEP Romeo Franz, Germany, Greens/EFA), Eva Sanjuan (assistant of MEP Ibán García del Blanco, Spain, S&D), Katarzyna Biniaszczyk (assistant of MEP Tomasz Frankowski, Poland, EPP), Augustin Ternynck (assistant of MEP François-Xavier Bellamy, France, EPP), Arnaud Pasquali and Alexandra Vistras (DG EAC – European Commission).


Day 2 – Creative Europe, EU-funded projects and House of European History

The second day opened with a presentation of the scholarship Julián Viñuales by Catherine Blache (Syndicat national de l’édition) and with a speech by the Ukrainian publisher Anna Yefimenko about the publishing situation in Ukraine. During her speech, she presented some of the latest trends in the Ukrainian book industry. Despite the war, she stressed that Ukrainians are doing their upmost to continue their daily life on a “business as usual” basis. Coming to book trends, she added that a study published by the Ukrainian Book Institute in October 2023 revealed that the number of Ukrainians reading daily doubled compared to before the war. This is also reflected in the participation to book festivals such as the one held in Kyiv between end of April and beginning of May, which turned out to be the biggest book festival in the last five years, with over 65,000 people participating. Bookstores also have become more popular, especially among young people, who frequently hang out there. Finally, Anna Yefimenko also added some details about her publishing house, Ranok. Ranok is one of the biggest publishing houses in Ukraine. It is based in Kharkiv, on the border with Russia, where several printing houses have been attacked since the beginning of the conflict. The publishing house moved its premises into shelters to allow their employees to keep working; they are specialised in textbooks, but they also publish books for children and young readers. As a publishing house, Ranok also organises charity events to support libraries and printing houses.

Afterwards, the YPPs learned more about the opportunities offered to the book sector by the Creative Europe Programme. The presentation was given by Arnaud Pasquali, Programme Manager for the Book sector, cooperation with the European Education and Culture Executive Agency on programme implementation and development, from the Directorate General for Education and Culture at the European Commission.

Following the presentation, the young publishers delved more into one project financed by the Creative Europe Programme, the European Union Prize for Literature, of whose consortium FEP is a member. After a general introduction to the functioning of the prize, the YPPs brainstormed with the FEP team and colleagues on how to improve the visibility of the prize for publishers. The attendees were very proactive and participative, and suggested several solutions to increase the prize visibility, such as fellowships with European book fairs and the possibility to have public figures as “testimonials” to promote the nominated books at the national level.

At the end of the meeting, the participants moved to the last part of the programme: a self-guided visit to the House of European History. It was an additional opportunity to rediscover the founding elements of European identity and to explore the key dates and events that led to the creation of the European Union, a very informative moment for all the young publishers, who appreciated the chance to learn more about European history.