Media freedom and media pluralism are under assault in Hungary, Poland and Slovenia. Only in the last few weeks, the Polish government presented their plan to impose taxes on independent media outlets to further silence the voices of the opposition. In Hungary, one of the last independent radio stations, Klubrádió, was just forced to go off air. And in Slovenia, following the despicable playbook of Viktor Orbán, the government has proposed new rules to gain influence over the Slovenian Press Agency and cut funding for the public broadcasting station. In addition, individual journalists are continuously targeted and threatened by Prime Minister Janez Janša himself and his cronies.
In a debate in the European Parliament today, Dacian Cioloş, President of Renew Europe Group, said:
"There is no freedom and democracy without freedom of the press, these are core values to us. All EU member states signed up to these values when they joined the European Union. It is therefore unacceptable that some today believe that they are allowed to undermine these values. Not just by infringing the Rule of Law but by choking off the free media as well. Attacking journalists is a no go, it should be condemned in the strongest possible terms.
Freedom of the press is already under pressure in Poland and Hungary and now apparently Janez Janša in Slovenia wants to join this sinister club. The Commission and Council should use all the tools in their toolboxes to protect the freedom of press. As will we."
These government's actions to challenge the fundamental freedom of the press and attempts to politicise key democratic institutions must end now. Renew Europe calls for a comprehensive strategy to protect and strengthen the freedom of the media and enhance the protection of journalists.