Wednesday

27th Jan 2021

Bulgaria and Greece rank last in EU press freedoms

  • Thirty one European countries rank among the top 50 best performers in the press freedom index (Photo: Hindrik S)

Bulgaria and Greece rank at the bottom of EU countries in terms of press freedom.

The findings are part of a larger report out on Wednesday (12 February) by the Paris-based watchdog Reporters Without Borders.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

It ranks the press freedom of 180 countries by looking at the levels of abuse, the extent of pluralism, media independence, self-censorship, the legislative framework, transparency, and infrastructure.

Placed at 100 and 99, respectively, both Bulgaria and Greece are below dozens of non-EU member states, including Kyrgyzstan and Liberia.

Investigative and independent journalists in Bulgaria are subject to police violence and harassment, it says.

Greece, for its part, has dropped 50 places in the index in the space of five years.

“This is a dizzying fall for the world’s oldest democracy,” notes the report.

Years of clientalism, closure of media outlets, attacks by neo-Nazi group Golden Dawn, and police abuse are among the reasons for the decline.

At 65, the EU’s newest member state, Croatia, is ranked the third worst offender among EU countries, followed closely by Hungary.

But larger EU member states like the UK and France have also slipped.

Reporters Without Borders head of research Lucie Morillon said the ranking of some countries has been “impacted by an overly broad and abusive interpretation of the concept of national security protection.”

The UK dropped three points to 33 following its harassment of The Guardian newspaper and the partner of its former top journalist Glenn Greenwald.

Two agents from the British intelligence agency GCHQ forced Guardian editors last summer to destroy hard drives containing leaked documents from US whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The report notes that both the US and UK authorities “seem obsessed with hunting down whistleblowers instead of adopting legislation to rein in abusive surveillance practices that negate privacy.”

France slipped a point to 39, just behind El Salvador, after a court order forced Mediapart and Le Point to remove recordings and transcripts from their websites in a scandal that implicated former President Nicolas Sarkozy.

There are some improvements. Italy is putting together a new law that would decriminalise defamation via the media.

Meanwhile, Finland, Norway and Netherlands remain the top performers.

The report notes “a real culture of individual freedoms” supported by constitutional and legal frameworks exist in all three countries.

The index ranks Eritrea, North Korea, and Turkmenistan as the overall worst offenders.

MEPs chide Portugal and Council in EU prosecutor dispute

The Belgian and Bulgarian prosecutors who were appointed had also not been the experts' first choice. Belgian prosecutor Jean-Michel Verelst has challenged the council's decision at the European Court of Justice.

EU Commission mulls police access to encrypted apps

The European Commission has not ruled out allowing police access to encrypted services. Instead, it says a balance needs to be found to protect rights while at the same time offering some leeway to law enforcement.

Muscat poker-faced in Malta inquiry into journalist murder

"How well I'm screwed," was the then Maltese prime minister Joseph Muscat's first thought on 16 October 2017, when he found out his country's best-known journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia, had just been murdered by a car bomb.

Opinion

Rule-of-law deal: major step for Europe of values

At the very moment when an incumbent president across the Atlantic was carrying out staggering attacks on the foundations of democracy, the European Parliament obtained a historic agreement to protect the rule of law in Europe.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  2. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  6. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice

Latest News

  1. Giuseppe Conte: scapegoat or Italy's most cunning politician?
  2. Borrell to meet Lavrov, while Navalny behind bars
  3. Too few central and eastern Europeans at top of EU
  4. Rift widens on 'returns' deadline in EU migration pact
  5. EU adds new 'dark red' zone to travel-restrictions map
  6. Migrants in Bosnia: a disaster foretold on EU doorstep
  7. Navalny protests sharpen EU sanctions talks
  8. Why Russia politics threaten European security

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us