OSSIGENO – October 2nd 2020 – The European Commissioner for Values and Transparency had just published a report highlighting the non-compliance of Hungary and proposing the ‘conditionality’ clause for access to European funds.
by Maria Laura Franciosi – Ossigeno per l’Informazione (Oxygen for Information) and 18 other European associations working in the field of defending media freedom and the rule of law, expressed solidarity with Vera Jourova, the subject of a personal attack by the Hungarian President Victor Orban who, on the eve of the presentation of the first Report on the implementation of the rule of law in EU countries called for her resignation.
The Report on the rule of law (read here) lists the numerous non-compliances of various countries, including Hungary. Vera Jourova, of Czech nationality, is Vice President of the EU Commission and European Commissioner responsible for Values and Transparency and is a supporter for the disbursement of European funds of the “conditionality” clause whereby countries that do not fully meet the requirements of the rule of law should not receive funds or at least they should receive fewer. Vitor Orban does not accept this thesis and has called in no uncertain terms for the resignation of Vera Jourova.
Ossigeno and the other organizations consider Orban’s request an unacceptable, unprecedented interference in the work of the European executive and also an attack on the freedom of the press that the document seeks to defend.
The spark that triggered the Hungarian leader’s harsh reaction was the interview granted by Vera Jourova to the German magazine “Der Spiegel” on September 25th 2020 in which the commissioner talked about the failures to implement the rule of law in Hungary and documented her words with data, research and analyses of the situation in that country against which the European Parliament has already decided to launch an ad hoc infringement procedure.
In particular – Ossigeno and the other associations observe – in Hungary “the freedom of expression for civil society and the media has been shrinking more and more in the last ten years and since the beginning of the Covid19 pandemic it has dramatically worsened with violations of the freedom of the press registered daily by journalists and civil society organizations who have defended it ”.
The signatory organizations therefore ask both the members of the European Council underway these days in Brussels and the European Commission to “use all the political and legal tools available to stop the dismantling of the rule of law, democracy and freedom of the press on the part of the Hungarian authorities “. These tools include the use of European funds, the distribution of state funds for advertising to the media and the independence of the audio-visual media protection body (Media Council) based on the provisions of the Audio-visual Services Directive. The European Council is also asked to activate a voting system that will allow the application of sanctions against those who do not respect the rule of law.
The report on the rule of law published on the 30th September 2020 by Vera Jourova and Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders describes the situation of press freedom in each of the 27 EU member states. The 17 pages dedicated to Italy also show the picture of threats to the press and the system of protection for threatened journalists, referring also to some assessments by Ossigeno per l’Informazione. MLF