Tuesday

2nd Jun 2020

Journalist group questions Belgium's suitability as EU capital

The Secretary General of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Aidan White, has said that Belgium's poor legal protection for journalists makes it "quite inappropriate" for it to host the EU institutions.

Speaking at a conference in Brussels today, (2 April) Mr White said, "the very thing we have to demand here, in Belgium, is the highest possible standards of freedom for journalists to do their work".

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

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

... or subscribe as a group

"It seems to me", he added, "that for Belgium to be one of the worst countries in terms of legal protection at national level for protection of sources makes it quite inappropriate to be the centre of the European Union political institutions which are responsible for the legal and economic administration of a region of 25 countries".

It is especially important to maintain press freedom in Brussels, he concluded, given that there are more foreign correspondents reporting on more vital decisions than anywhere else in the World.

According to the IFJ, more attacks on journalistic confidentiality have occurred in Belgium in recent years than in any other Western European country.

And the Federation, which represents 500,000 members in more than 100 countries, along with the International Press Association and the Belgium journalists' union is set to draft a joint letter demanding a better legal framework for protection of journalistic sources.

Spotlight on Brussels

The situation in Belgium has been highlighted recently by fears of political pressure on journalists after a Brussels-based reporter was arrested by Belgian police.

Hans-Martin Tillack - a correspondent for Stern - was arrested at his home on Friday 19 March and taken to his office where computer equipment, mobile phones and files were seized.

He was questioned for ten hours without legal representation but was eventually released without charge.

The raid was triggered by allegations that Mr Tillack had paid for information relating to the EU's anti fraud body OLAF.

The investigative journalist has been a thorn in the side of Brussels officialdom for some time. He was the first journalist to report investigations into irregularities at the EU statistical arm, Eurostat, which led to the removal of the responsible officials.

More recently, he has written about MEPs allegedly falsifying signatures qualifying for daily allowances and MEPs employing their wives and family members.

He continues to protest his innocence.

Jourova: Ease emergency powers - especially Hungary

The EU commission vice-president said that as member states relax lockdwon measures, it is time to roll back the state of emergencies that affect democracy and fundamental rights. Hungary said it might end extra powers in June.

Commission struggles with German court challenge

While the EU commission has suggested there could be EU probes becasue of the German consitutional court's decision, chancellor Angela Merkel argued to her party that a clash is avoidable.

Bucharest and Budapest in 'autonomy' region row

Budapest and Bucharest are engaged in a war of words over the heavily-Hungarian region of Szeklerland, part of Romania's Transylvania. But is a row over autonomy just cover to overshadow the corona virus crisis?

Hungary and Poland in spotlight for lockdown moves

The EU commission is double-checking emergency measures in every member state, as fundamental rights have been temporarily abrogated. But Hungary and Poland are problematic, yet no actions are planned.

News in Brief

  1. Trump threatens to use army to crush unrest in US
  2. Trump wants Russia back in G7-type group
  3. Iran: Fears of second wave as corona numbers rise again
  4. WHO: Overuse of antibiotics to strengthen bacterial resistance
  5. Orban calls EU Commission recovery plan 'absurd'
  6. ABBA's Björn new president of authors' rights federation
  7. Malta and Libya to create anti-migrant 'units'
  8. France reopening bars and parks next week

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  3. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  5. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers call for post-corona synergies between economic recovery and green transition

Latest News

  1. Malta fiddles on migrants, as Libya burns
  2. Borrell: EU doesn't need to choose between US and China
  3. Post-Brexit and summer travel talks This WEEK
  4. State-level espionage on EU tagged as 'Very High Threat'
  5. Beethoven vs Virus: How his birthplace Bonn is coping
  6. EU's new migration pact must protect people on the move
  7. Spain takes 'giant step' on guaranteed minimum income
  8. Vestager hits back at Lufthansa bailout criticism

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us