Friday

1st Jul 2022

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.

Pegasus spyware makers grilled by MEPs

"We will not continue to work with a customer that is targeting a journalist illegally," Chaim Gelfand, chief compliance officer of NSO Group told MEPs — but shed little light on EU governments' use of its Pegasus spyware.

Opinion

Romania — latest EU hotspot in backlash against LGBT rights

Romania isn't the only country portraying lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people as a threat to children. From Poland and Hungary in EU, to reactionary movements around the world are prohibiting portrayals of LGBT people and families in schools.

News in Brief

  1. EU Parliament 'photographs protesting interpreters'
  2. Poland still failing to meet EU judicial criteria
  3. Report: Polish president fishing for UN job
  4. Auditors raise alarm on EU Commission use of consultants
  5. Kaliningrad talks needed with Russia, says Polish PM
  6. Report: EU to curb state-backed foreign takeovers
  7. EU announces trade deal with New Zealand
  8. Russia threatens Norway over goods transit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  3. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  5. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBHow price increases affect construction workers

Latest News

  1. Nato's Madrid summit — key takeaways
  2. Czech presidency to fortify EU embrace of Ukraine
  3. Covid-profiting super rich should fight hunger, says UN food chief
  4. EU pollution and cancer — it doesn't have to be this way
  5. Israel smeared Palestinian activists, EU admits
  6. MEPs boycott awards over controversial sponsorship
  7. If Russia collapses — which states will break away?
  8. EU Parliament interpreters stage strike

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us