Wednesday, April 17, 2024

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Jourová: New media law will be ‘major warning signal’ for EU countries


Věra Jourová, Vice President of the European Commission, is optimistic about the new EU media regulations that were approved by Parliament on Tuesday.

During an interview in Strasbourg, she told POLITICO that the implementation of the European Media Freedom Act will serve as a significant warning for member states.

The recently implemented rule has the goal of protecting media autonomy from political influence and promoting diversity throughout the region. This may pose a challenge for Hungarian leader Viktor Orbán, as his Fidesz party has gained significant control over 80% of the country’s media through strategic tactics, as reported by Reporters without Borders in their most recent World Press Freedom index.

Jourová stated that in Hungary, the situation is like trying to unscramble scrambled eggs. The country is heavily reliant on one political party, with state media being the only source of information. The distinction between legitimate economic support for media and secretive corruption is significant.

But the upcoming set of new rules could eventually make a difference, with its new transparency and independence obligations and the increased scrutiny to which it subjects detrimental media conglomerates and laws affecting the EU’s media landscape.

Jourová expressed concern about the trend in Hungary towards monopolizing information and stated that she does not want this to occur in other places. She also mentioned the possibility of gradually dismantling such systems in the future.

However, if Budapest were to refuse to participate, it could have serious consequences, as she alluded to the potential for the law’s violation procedures.

She mentioned that there could be significant consequences in the end.

However, it is not only Hungary that is facing scrutiny from the Commission. France may also be targeted in the near future. This is due to the recent detention of journalist Ariane Lavrilleux by French law enforcement following her coverage of leaked, damaging documents.

Jourová stated that the situation in France demonstrates a lack of adequate protection for journalists. She explained that initially, France was one of the countries opposing the media law, claiming it would harm their impressive systems.

She remarked that she always found this to be extremely arrogant.

Paris had previously argued, with success, in the Council for a larger exception in the media law that would permit EU member states to monitor journalists. However, European legislators included stricter exemptions and stronger measures to safeguard journalists in their version of the legislation.

After the successful approval of their position in the plenary on Tuesday, Members of the Parliament will begin political discussions with the Council on October 18.

Jourová acknowledged that there will be negotiations that will require a lot of effort.