I wrote a post back in Nov 2010 about an article in NUJ Brussels but I'm not surprised to see that the article has since been taken down. It was essentially about the EU sponsoring accredited journalists for a project and it laid out the terms and conditions under which journos could operate. EU accreditation is something that must be applied for and renewed on a regular basis. If you say anything out of order, you don't get your pass renewed.
Neelie Kroes*, the Commissioner for the Digital Agenda and Vice-President of the Commission says that "media freedom is a delicate flower" that must be "protected". Yesterday, two years after instigating the Report, her Office published THIS from the "High Level Group on Media Freedom and Pluralism".
Extract from P33: Bloggers have not been forgotten -
"This harmonisation not only refers to rights and obligations of journalists (regardless of the media outlet used by them), but also to rights and obligations of non-journalist users of the internet. As mentioned, these users are covered by the human right of freedom of expression; unrestricted access to the internet offers a new dimension of freedom of expression for normal citizens, which has to be acknowledged, protected and guaranteed. But it also creates new challenges in the separation of private and public speech and by maximising the possible harm done to others by false and even malicious statements diffused through the internet. This is why a fair legal regulation is necessary, balancing the new dimension of freedom of expression and the justified rights and interests of other citizens."Extract from P39: Promoting the European Union -
"The very idea of promoting a European public sphere, the possible emergence of European media, increased European awareness within the national public spheres, or increased national coverage of European affairs, is still controversial in many quarters...This does not mean, however, that the Union and its Member States should abstain from any policy or action aimed at promoting increased media coverage of EU affairs. On the contrary, in the same way that EU and State actions (including funding) may be necessary to promote pluralism at the State level, it is equally appropriate for the Union and its Member States to undertake actions to promote pluralism in the form of increased coverage of EU affairs."Extract from P40: The EU's own School of Journalism -
"Among possible concrete measures that might offer a partial remedy to this situation, the European Commission could explicitly and emphatically include journalism in the existing Jean Monnet Programme. Higher Journalism Schools, Universities with Journalism programmes and their Professors could then respond to the calls for proposals published every year by the Commission. This would be valuable in increasing their opportunities to address cross-border issues and broaden the pool of those with special competencies in EU affairs."Leveson: EU wants power to sack journalists
EU officials hope to use Leveson's proposals to ensure British press promotes 'European values'
Rules for press accreditation to the European Parliament
More on accreditation and how it can be revoked
Never forget what happened to Bernard Connolly as long ago as 2001: ECJ outlaws criticism of the European Union:
"The ruling stated that the commission could restrict dissent in order to "protect the rights of others" and punish individuals who "damaged the institution's image and reputation".* For the record, Neelie Kroes is a no-mark Dutch politician and her Party is called: "The People's Party for Freedom and Democracy", which, in my experience, will have precisely the opposite meaning. Her blog is HERE.
The court called the Connolly book "aggressive, derogatory and insulting", taking particular umbrage at the author's suggestion that Economic and Monetary Union was a threat to democracy, freedom and "ultimately peace".
Speaking of cross-border co-operation and pluralism, does anyone remember THIS? It's a Quentin Letts' article from 2009:
"In plain English, this means giving MEPs the right to sit on the green leather benches of the Commons Chamber. The proposal-was issued under the name of the president of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, and was discussed in Stockholm at an EU Speakers' Conference on Friday, December 11, and Saturday, December 12."It has become more and more difficult to get a direct route to the information I need. Links disappear or are hidden away and unless you have the almost-exact phrase you need the patience of Job because it's tricky and time-consuming to get anywhere. Google used to be quite good but now it pulls up what it wants you to see, and half the time, it isn't what I want to see. If anyone has any info on the progress of that particular initiative, I'd be glad to hear it.
Now, where on earth did I put my ruby slippers?
UPDATE: The Office of Neelie Kroes has been quick to step in and has posted the following comment underneath Toby Young's article. I'm reproducing it here in the interests of fairness and transparency (nudge, nudge, wink, wink):
"It is almost hard to count how many things Toby Young has gotten wrong in this post - but that is press freedom for you. Let me correct a few things.
1. Bruno Waterfield didn't "uncover" anything. I emailed him the report, as democracy-minded spokespeople at the EU do every day
2. European values are nothing more than basic freedom and democracy and are already set out in a charter of fundamental rights. it's not new and it's not an anti-UK plot.
3. This report was not commissioned as the basis for draft EU legislation, it was commissioned to stimulate debate.
4. The reports gives examples of enforcement powers but does not specify what they should be or how they should be applied – that is properly a matter for national parliaments and public debate
5. The report authors are very clear that definitions of journalism and journalists are still contested concepts – they are not calling for journalists to be stripped of their privileges, the EU is never going to "sack" journalists.
6. The European Commission is not seeking to be placed in a centralised "overall control" of media regulation.
7. Vice President Kroes is grateful for receiving ideas that stimulate debate – like the other Commissioners with recommendations relevant to their policy portfolios she will be taking time to reflect on the ideas and will be seeking public feedback
8. She has never said Leveson or this report's ideas are exactly what she's looking for - ideas to stimulate DEBATE are what she looked for and received.
So chill out folks, keep debating, and check the facts Mr Young
Spokesperson for Neelie Kroes,
European Commission "
All of which was to be expected and if you truly believe this is as far as it will go, you'll believe anything.