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16 September 2021

Calls For EU To Defend Press Freedom

Calls for the European Union to step up and take action have increased after a new report laid bare the threats faced by reporters in EU member countries.

In recent years, journalists have been murdered in EU countries Greece, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Denmark, Malta and the Netherlands and the media outlets have faced hostile tactics from Governments in a bid to quash press freedom.

Writing in The Times this week, former BBC central Europe correspondent Misha Glenny said the EU had “sat and watched” as regimes across the EU “trample on basic freedoms,” as detailed in the Association of Independent Journalists’ Europe’s Free Press Under Siege report.

Misha said: “The report is hair-raising. For several years, governments in Poland and Hungary have deployed a potpourri of chicanery: withholding licences, withdrawing advertising, spuriously using foreign ownership laws, and intimidating journalists and owners of independent media.

“Worse, journalists are seen as the legitimate targets of mafia-style killings by shadowy groups which frequently manage to escape justice. In the past few years, journalists have been murdered in Greece, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Denmark, Malta and the Netherlands.”

He added: “Brussels must take concrete steps to defend a free press. The commission has finally got tough with Warsaw for its assault on the independence of the judiciary. The threat of withholding cash from its Covid recovery fund looks serious.

“Now the commission must focus on capitals throttling a free media. If it wants to remain true to its principles, it’s time for the EU to get tough.”