Journalists Protest at “Bizarre Rules” Imposed by British over Access to European Union Events

Journalists Protest at “Bizarre Rules” Imposed by British over Access to European Union Events

The European Federation of Journalists and the Association of Foreign Correspondents in Brussels (API) today called on the British Government to withdraw what they say are “bizarre and inexplicable rules” concerning accreditation by journalists to events being organised under the British Presidency of the European Union which began on July 1st.

The groups, while recognising that security concerns are important and require appropriate measures, nevertheless criticise British authorities for demanding information in forms requesting press accreditation that is “personal and irrelevant.”

“There is a compulsory demand that journalists give details about their parents,” said Michael Stabenow, chairman of the foreign correspondents group API. “We all know that security is of prime concern, but this is on the face of it intrusive, personal and irrelevant and should be removed.”

The journalists also complain that every time the presidency of the European Union changes they face a different regime for accreditation which means that journalists have to jump through new hoops every six months just to get the right to report on EU activities.

At the same time there appears to be different criteria applied for different meetings – whether they are summits of EU leaders, informal meetings of foreign ministers or other ministerial gatherings. Today’s complaint is based upon forms presented for journalists wishing to cover the foreign ministerial meeting in Newport at the beginning of September.

“If the European Union wants to connect properly with citizens it must at the very least get its approach to working journalists right and not oblige them to follow rules that are bizarre and inexplicable,” said Aidan White, General Secretary of the EFJ. “Journalists already have accreditation at national and European level and this should be respected throughout the European Union.”

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The European Federation of Journalists represents over 260,000 journalists in Europe
API represents over 450 foreign correspondents covering the EU institutions