A New Report Raises the Alarm Regarding the State of European Media

The freedom of the press keeps declining across the European Union, according to a report by the Civil Liberties Union for Europe, a NGO headquartered in Berlin. The document complied by 37 organizations from 19 countries reveals that much of the media is still under the control of their patrons, and there is little transparency about their owners, abuses against journalists, and numerous threats to public media’s independence and funding.

The report covers multiple cases of threats, intimidation, surveillance, and violence against journalists in a number of EU member states, as well as limitations of freedom of expression and access to information across the entire community bloc.

Although the number of serious threats against journalists has decreased, it is still higher than registered during the years before the coronavirus pandemic. Abuses are registered especially during protests, but attacks by politicians are also a frequent phenomenon, according to the report. For instance, journalists in such countries as Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, and Italy suffered from physical attacks in 2023, and in Hungary and Slovakia, reporters faced abuse and threats from politicians.

In Romania and Sweden, police failed to investigate attacks on journalists properly “due to lack of resources or lack of will,” the source mentions, while in France and Bulgaria, journalists themselves were attacked by police officers. SLAPPs were routinely used against journalists in Croatia, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, and Sweden, whereas reporters in Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, and Poland were surveilled by means of using such spy programs as Pegasus and Predator.

Female journalists keep facing a disproportionate number of attacks, especially online, and even sexual harassment during live broadcasts.

Various types of restrictions on freedom of expression and censorship remain to be a problem in many EU member states, and this trend was also observed in previous editions of this report. Civil society organizations in Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, and Italy reported censorship attempts.

The authors of the report recommend that the European authorities closely monitor the way the member states implement the legislation regulating media independence. The NGO also recommends developing databases with information on media owners’ connections with political actors at the national and the European level, as well as on states’ advertising expenses.

“The European Commission should open infringement proceedings against those Member States that fail to adhere to international standards of the rule of law, the freedom of the media and freedom of expression,” the Civil Liberties Union for Europe concludes.

Show More

💬 ...

Back to top button