Tuesday

27th Sep 2016

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.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFAMessages of Hope From the Basque Country and Galicia
  2. Access NowDigital Rights Heroes and Villains. See Who Protects Your Rights, Who Wants to Take Them Away
  3. Martens CentreQuo Vadis Georgia? What to Expect From the Parliamentary Elections. Debate on 29 September
  4. EJCAppalled by Recommendation to Remove Hamas From EU Terrorism Watch List
  5. GoogleBringing Education to Refugees in Lebanon With the Clooney Foundation for Justice
  6. HuaweiAn Industry-leading ICT Solution Provider and Building a Better World
  7. World VisionUN Refugees Meeting a Wasted Opportunity to Improve the Lives of Millions of Children
  8. Belgrade Security ForumCan Democracy Survive Global Disorder?
  9. YouthProAktivEntrepreneurship, Proactivity, Innovation - Turn Ideas Into Action #IPS2016
  10. GoogleTrimming the Waste-Line: Weaving Circular Economy Principles Into Our Operations
  11. Crowdsourcing Week EuropeDon't Miss the Mega Conference to Master Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding and Innovation! 10% Discount Code CSWEU16
  12. ACCAKaras Report on Access to Finance for SMEs in a Capital Markets Union