The President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz criticises Violations on Press Freedom in Europe
Leipzig, 1 July 2015. "The transformation of journalism in Europe in the past 20 years has been dramatic," said Martin Schulz at a meeting with members of the newly established European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) in Brussels on 30th June 2015. Journalists have been murdered or faced police assaults, media laws were changed in several EU-member or neighbouring countries and the murderous attack on Charlie Hebdo is engraved in the continent’s collective memory.
"Journalism is in many parts of Europe more and more under pressure also from anti-democratic movements who label media as 'Lügenpresse'," said Schulz. He sees the ECPMF as a promising chance to give the highly fragmented press freedom initiatives that are active in many places all over Europe a stronger and a united voice.
Schulz congratulated the ECPMF delegation and underlined the importance of defending journalism and journalists on a pan-European level. After the meeting the ECPMF delegates contributed to a panel discussion in the parliament asking "Is Media freedom in Europa under threat?" moderated by Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, Vice-President of the European Parliament for Democracy and Human Rights. Around 70 Brussels correspondents, NGO members, representatives of the European Parliament and the Commission participated.
Hans-Ulrich Joerges, ECPMF Executive Board Member, introduced the ideas and aims of the centre as a coordination and information facility. "We invite all existing press freedom organisations to become a member of our European Co-operative in order to join forces and ring a big bell for press freedom." Another central aim of the ECPMF regarding media freedom is to close the gap between Western and Eastern Europe.
Margo Smit, Vice Chair of the ECPMF Advisory Board and Director of the Dutch-Flemish Association of Investigative Journalists VVOJ, and Ides Debruyne, Chair of the investigative journalism initiative Journalismfund.eu, demanded more actions from the EU regarding legislative changes and the protection of sources.