Friday

21st Jul 2017

EU wants tougher media laws in Romania

  • European Commission president recommends tougher media laws in Romania to protect judicial independence. (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

The independence of Romania's judiciary is being threatened by media campaigns, European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso has warned.

Speaking in Brussels on Monday (4 February) alongside Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta, the commission chief said steps should be taken to ensure Romanian media cannot single out an individual prosecutor or judge in a smear campaign.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

“We cannot dismiss the fact that we have received complaints by the Constitutional Court, by the Superior Council of Magistracy, about campaigns orchestrated in the media against the independence of the magistrates, either prosecutors or judges," Barroso noted.

The same concerns were earlier raised in a commission report on Romania's rule of law published on 30 January.

The paper said that the Romanian government needs to "review existing standards to safeguard a free and pluralist media while ensuring effective redress ... against undue pressure or intimidation from the media against the judiciary."

The report raises doubt on the ability of Romania’s media watchdog, the National Audiovisual Council, to do its job under current rules.

For his part, Ponta said media freedom is a fundamental value, but added it requires a balance "with the independence of the judiciary and the working of the rule of law."

Brussels' ideas have not gone down well with pro-media freedom groups in Romania.

Diana-Olivia Hatneanu, from the human rights organisation the Romanian Helsinki Committee, told this website from Bucharest that the commission report effectively "recommended a complete ban on critising judicial decisions."

The committee and like-minded NGOs such as the Center for Independent Journalism, the Romanian Center for Investigative Journalism and Active Watch fear that Romanian authorities might mistake the EU intervention as a carte blanche to crack down on government-critical journalists, for example by making defamation and slander punishable under criminal law.

The two offences were removed from the criminal code six years ago following extensive pressure from the media and NGOs.

The Constitutional Court later ruled that decriminalisation of defamation is unconstitutional. But despite the verdict, both items have remained off the criminal register.

Hatneanu added that Barroso is missing the point.

She said the real problem in the Romanian media sector is business barons who use television, radio and print for their own political ends.

It is the media tycoons, she believes, who put pressure on journalists to target judges or for the National Audiovisual Council to turn a blind eye and who should be the focus of EU concern.

She noted the commission’s suggestions would also place additional barriers on the few truly independent media outlets that still exist.

“The wording [of the EU rule of law report] is too vague and leaves room for the authorities to take measures against independent media," she said.

EU still unhappy with Romania's rule of law

Romanian ministers accused of corruption should resign and MPs should stop shielding themselves from anti-graft investigations, the EU commission plans to say.

Polish parliament steps up showdown with EU

Lawmakers in Poland adopted a controversial reform of the Supreme Court, despite warnings from the EU that the move could trigger a sanction procedure over the rule of law.

Investigation

Mafia money pollutes the EU economy

Huge amounts of money from criminal activities are funnelled into the legitimate European economy. But little is being done about it at EU or national level.

Investigation

Mafia money pollutes the EU economy

Huge amounts of money from criminal activities are funnelled into the legitimate European economy. But little is being done about it at EU or national level.

News in Brief

  1. Polish parliament adopts controversial justice reform
  2. GMO opt-out plan unlikely to go anywhere in 2017
  3. Slovak PM threatens to boycott inferior food
  4. France takes Google's 'right to be forgotten' to EU court
  5. Turkey accuses German companies of supporting terror
  6. Israel's Netanyahu caught calling EU 'crazy'
  7. UK does not collect enough data to expel EU nationals
  8. Polish president threatens to veto justice reform

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  2. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  3. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  4. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  5. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  6. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Episode 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  9. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  10. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEuFoA Director and MEPs Comment on the Recent Conflict Escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh
  12. EU2017EEEstonian Presidency Kicks off Youth Programme With Coding Summer School

Latest News

  1. Dutch coalition talks lengthiest in 40 years
  2. Polish parliament steps up showdown with EU
  3. EU urges UK to clarify its Brexit positions
  4. Law expert: direct EU powers have become too complicated
  5. Winter is here for Spitzenkandidat, but he'll survive
  6. Mafia money pollutes the EU economy
  7. Central Europe should be wary of Brexit stopping
  8. Poland's 'July coup' and what it means for the judiciary