European Union (EU) officials prepare for a mission to Hungary, the European
Federation of Journalists (EFJ) today urged President Manuel Barroso and his
team to analyse and change the country's controversial new media law which the
Federation claims is a breach of European law and violates principles enshrined
in the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
says the EU must examine the law and its implementation, not just regarding
technical criteria as covered by the Audiovisual Services Directive, but how it
fits with the Fundamental Rights Charter.
convinced that it will be necessary to launch an infringement procedure against
Hungary under Article 6 of the EU treaty, if the Hungarian government does not
radically change the law as in place now," says the EFJ in its letter to
the EFJ warned that the law could expose journalists and media to extensive
fines should they refuse to disclose their sources or if they publish content
judged inappropriate or not "balanced" by a new media council of the Hungarian
Media Regulatory Office.
state bureaucrats and political representatives have been made the new
editors-in-chief of Hungarian media," said Arne König, the EFJ President, "It
is absurd and completely inacceptable for any democratic country."
believes that it is not only the principle of journalism as a public good is at
stake in this matter, but also the credibility of the EU as a political institution
defending human rights.
legally-binding Charter of Fundamental Rights, which also covers media
pluralism and free expression in its Article 11, is part of European primary
legislation. The Commissioner responsible for the Charter Viviane Reding says
it "is the EU's own ambitious bill of fundamental rights".
The EFJ has
welcomed a statement by President Barroso yesterday that "the freedom of media
is for us a sacred principle. It's a fundamental principle", but the Federation
says journalists and media around Europe expect EU leaders take a stand in
support of media rights and to seek from Hungary assurances that they will
change the law and guarantee the citizens of Hungary their rights to free
expression as set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
The EFJ is
strongly supporting its affiliate, the Hungarian Association of Journalists, in
their demand for the media law to be suspended immediately while the EU carries
out an official investigation into the law and its potential impact. They then
expect changes to be made before the law is put back on the statute book.
Enclose letter to President Barroso
the petition now against the new media law in Hungary!
information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 02
The EFJ represents over 250,000 journalists in over 30 European countries.