of emergency measures
The AEJ has joined other major media freedom organisations in an urgent warning against
misuse of emergency laws to repress critical media and restrict freedom of
information. A letter to the presidents of the European Commission, the European
Council, and European Parliament says the free flow of independent news is
essential both to maintain accurate information to the public and to ensure public
scrutiny and debate on emergency measures. It notes all such measures must be
necessary, proportionate, temporary and strictly time-limited, and subject to
regular scrutiny to ensure excessive powers do not undermine democratic balances,
including the free press.
The urgent letter supports
a joint statement from three global special rapporteurs on freedom of
expression with the UN, OSCE and the OAS and is signed by:
European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
European Federation of Journalists
Free Press Unlimited (FPU)
Index on Censorship
International Federation of Journalists
International Press Institute (IPI)
Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
The open letter is also
available here on the International Press Institute website.
There is a global
study showing a majority of the public around the world get their
information about coronavirus from mainstream media – yet journalists are
their least trusted source. Please see
this report in the UK Press Gazette and here
for more on coronavirus coverage in the UK.
The AEJ International site has interesting links to EU coverage of the
coronavirus story on its home page.
data could contribute to a cure
response to Covid 19 – every government for itself
decisions the EU should make
Musings on “mad Brexit
It’s a sad day for Europe but a chance to reform the EU writes AEJ President and
Austrian journalist Otmar Lahodynsky. He describes the UK’s exit from the EU
as “slamming shut a door which is unlikely to re-open for at least a decade”
- but it does allow the EU to shape its future without constant opposition from
And David Haworth, long-time correspondent in Brussels and a founding member
and former president of the British section of AEJ, has these reflections on
“mad Brexit disease” and the long and winding road of the UK to Europe and
The United Kingdom has officially left the European Union
- at midnight Central European Time on January 31. For a range of news
coverage and what it means please see these links:
Brexit and Quebec separatism
Nick Hopkinson, AEJ member and a former director of Wilton Park, the Foreign
and Commonwealth Office policy forum, finds some striking parallels between
the long campaign for independence in his native Quebec and Brexit in the UK.
And in this article
– first published in February 2020 in The
New European - he argues the Quebec experience can provide some insights
into how the Brexit process may unfold in the United Kingdom.
London central to UK future relations with EU?
former Conservative MP, cabinet minister, and contender for Conservative
party leader, says London could have a "very, very central" part
to play in Britain's future relations with the European Union. Now an independent candidate for
London mayor in elections on May 7, he told an AEJ UK meeting on January 29
that London’s connections and contributions are crucial to the success
of the rest of the UK and it could act as a bridge between Britain and the EU over the
next 10 to 15 years in areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics and
nanotechnology while still learning from policies in other European cities.
For more on his argument and following discussion please see this report from former FT
correspondent Peter Norman and this
audio recording of the meeting.
Gambling on the future -2
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson won his bet on the future
of Britain in a snap election on December 12. Voters woke up on Friday the 13th
to a thumping
Conservative majority, the resignations of both main opposition party
leaders – Labour’s
Jeremy Corbyn and the Liberal Democrats’
Jo Swinson, and a resurgent Scottish
National Party seeking the independence of Scotland. Johnson’s Conservatives
won the biggest Conservative majority – 80 seats - since Margaret Thatcher in
1987 despite taking less than 44% of the national vote and a mandate to
deliver its simple election message of “Get Brexit Done”. But their promise
to leave the EU on January 31 followed by EU
trade negotiations with a deadline in December is only one of a raft of
questions facing the government – some
fairly obvious from the election campaign but others with deeper and
longer-term significance as outlined
here by Trisha de
Borchgrave, artist and daughter of prominent long-time U.S. journalist Arnaud
de Borchgrave. This includes the possible fragmentation of the United
Kingdom as Scotland’s First Minister Nicola
Sturgeon seeks a new referendum on independence and leads the SNP as the
third largest party in the UK Parliament with 48 seats - all but eight of
Scotland’s 56 seats. On the other hand, rumblings about increasing support
for a united Ireland leaving the UK may be on hold as Northern
Ireland’s voters seem to be supporting middle-ground politicians.
Meanwhile the Labour party faces a wrenching period of soul
searching and infighting
over both their leadership and political direction and the Liberal
Democrats look for their fifth leader in less than 10 years.
Please also see here for:
How Johnson’s Conservatives won:
Just days before British voters gave Boris Johnson's Conservatives a green
light to exit the European Union, delegates to the AEJ’s 2019 Congress in
Paris were treated to an assessment of the impact of the new European
Parliament from its Secretary-General, Klaus Welle. At Jean Monnet House
outside Paris – a complex devoted to the life and work of one of the fathers
of the EU – Mr. Welle analysed the May
2019 European Parliament elections held at the height of talks with the UK
about Brexit and after open resistance to EU policies on migration and the
rule of law in the four Visegrad states of central Europe. He said the
election results were mixed: fragmentation of the vote into more separate
party groupings meant that at
least three party groupings will be required to pass legislation. But he also
claimed the new parliament has increased democratic legitimacy because the elections reversed a
long-term downward trend in voter turnout. For more on this presentation please see this
report from Charles Jenkins, AEJ UK member and former Western
Europe editor of the Economist Intelligence Unit.
And AEJ UK member and former RTE journalist Brian O’Connell has this report on the
prospective agendas of the newly-elected political groupings, with Brexit
colouring debate but by no means dominating it.
The future after Brexit
Britain’s role in the world will require a new national
strategy if Brexit happens - and that needs a lot more attention says one of
Britain’s top diplomats. Lord Peter Ricketts, former UK National Security
Adviser and head of the diplomatic service, told an AEJ lunch on November
20th 2019 that’s just one of the multiple challenges facing the UK in a post
Brexit world. For more on his presentation please see this report from
former FT correspondent Peter Norman and this audio transcript.
See here for more Brexit news
stops AEJ UK meetings
Regent’s University has provisionally suspended all events and gatherings at their
campus including those with the AEJ until the end of April - pending further
advice from the university and the UK government about public health risks.
Updates will be available by email and on this site.
meetings usually start at 12:30 and are open to journalists, academics and Europe
specialists and guests. Pre-registration is necessary by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. A fee of £25 is charged to
cover the cost of refreshments - £10 for under-25s and free admission may be
extended to students on a discretionary basis.
11 May – pending
further advice on coronavirus
Venue: Herringham Hall, Regent’s University, Inner
Circle Regent’s Park 1230-1430
Lord Patten of Barnes, Chancellor of
Oxford University, former Conservative cabinet minister, governor of Hong
Kong, and European Commissioner for External Affairs. He will examine Europe
in a turbulent world.
For a list
of our recent lunchtime guests see Events.
AEJ UK meetings were kindly hosted at Europe House, the London home of the EU
Commission and European Parliament, for
many years. Please see their UK website
for EU events and information.
Recent AEJ UK guests
China and Asia
China will bounce back from the coronavirus disruption, probably
without any major long-term geopolitical impact. But, says Asia and China scholar Jeff Kingston,
the consequences for President Xi Jinping might be less clear. Kingston -
writer, columnist and Director of Asian Studies at Temple University Tokyo –
briefed an AEJ UK meeting on March 9 2020 on China’s relationships in Asia.
Please see this report on
the meeting from former FT correspondent Peter Norman and this audio recording.
UK cyber security
How is the UK dealing with threats to cyber security and
defending against them? As Brexit looms and debate continues about potential
cyber threats such as the involvement of China’s Huawei in 5G
telecommunications and Russian or other state interference in democratic
processes in the UK and elsewhere, Nicola Hudson, Director of Policy and
Communications at the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), explained the
role of her young agency. She told the AEJ on February 20 2020 the NCSC, formed only 3 years ago, functions
in two very different worlds:
– as an operational division of GCHQ, the UK's signals intelligence agency
- and at a public level seeking ways of raising awareness of fast growing
cyber threats and devising innovative ways of developing the population's
cyber security skills for the future.
For more on her presentation please see this report from
former FT correspondent Peter Norman and this audio recording.
London central to UK future relations with EU?
Rory Stewart, former
Conservative MP, cabinet minister, and contender for Conservative party
leader, says London could have a "very, very
central" part to play in Britain's future relations with the European
Union. Now an independent candidate for London mayor in elections scheduled
for May 7 2020 but postponed for a year, he told an AEJ UK meeting on January
29 that London’s connections and contributions are crucial to the success of the
rest of the UK and it could act as a bridge between Britain and the EU over
the next 10 to 15 years in areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics
and nanotechnology while still learning from policies in other European
cities. For more on his argument and following discussion please see this report from former FT
correspondent Peter Norman and this
audio recording of the meeting.
for more AEJ UK guest speakers
AEJ Media Freedom Project
AEJ works to protect freedom of expression and independent journalism by
bringing issues to the attention of governments and advising
inter-governmental organisations on behalf of our members. The AEJ's Media
Freedom Representative and Vice President is William Horsley, a former BBC foreign
correspondent and the current chairman of the UK section.
Since the AEJ Media
Freedom Survey in 2007 (Goodbye to Freedom?), the AEJ has published Europe-wide
surveys and reports that reveal the erosion of press freedom through physical
assaults, wrongful imprisonment, oppressive laws, and unacceptable political
and commercial pressures.
The AEJ is an observer at the Council of Europe. Since 2 April 2015, it has been one of the
eight partners in the Council's online platform
for early warning of and rapid response to attacks on the
media. For more information, see Media
The AEJ actively supports
the ongoing efforts of UNESCO, the UN Agency with a mandate to safeguard media
freedom, to implement the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. The AEJ
Media Freedom Representative authored the OSCE's Safety of Journalists Guidebook setting out the obligations of participating states to protect
the security of journalists, including those using the Internet.
Our campaigns and activities can also be tracked on the Media
Freedom and News pages of the international AEJ website, www.aej.org
AEJ and the Council of Europe
takes part in the policy work of the Council of Europe (CoE) on key issues of media freedom as a participant in the steering committee on
Media and Information Society and the Platform
to Promote the Protection of Journalism
and the Safety of Journalists. It works on
behalf of its members across Europe to hold the CoE and its 47 member states
to their commitments on media freedom and freedom of expression.
read further, please go to Media
Media visits to the European Parliament
London Office has a small budget to offset some of the travel and hotel costs
incurred by journalists when visiting the European Parliament. Only a limited
number can be helped in this way, so you must first be invited by the UK
Office before seeking reimbursement (see EP website).
A selection of AEJ-related writings and activities
AEJ member Charles Jenkins, former Western Europe editor
of the Economist Intelligence Unit, blogs on Europe at https://eupriorities.ideasoneurope.eu/
Robinson’s writing is now accessible on FirdevsTalkTurkey.com
William Horsley blogs on BBC
Long-time AEJ member – and journalist, author and politician – Jonathan Fryer
is the Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman for London. Please see his blog here.
Urgent call to stop violent attacks against
journalists covering migrants’ arrival in Greece
has joined an appeal to safeguard journalists reporting on migrants
trying to seek safety in Greece.
European Parliament struggles to reach budget agreement
Is the ghost of Margaret Thatcher’s “We want our money back!” holding
back agreement on the EU’s financial future? Members of the European
Parliament are struggling over the EU’s budget for 2021 to 2027. And in a
faint echo of the UK’s long-running debate over Europe, some are focussed on
how to weigh each member state’s net contributions against their benefits
while others want to concentrate on furthering the all-important priorities
of the EU in its domestic and external strategy for the next seven years.
These issues were highlighted in an AEJ seminar in Brussels on February 18
and 19 as this report
by AEJ UK’s Secretary Charles Jenkins explains.
Concerns about UK government media management
The AEJ has joined widespread criticism of the new UK government’s
attempts to control and manage media access, tactics that echo Donald Trump.
And it’s called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government to end at once
and partisan media policies.
“The UK government has laid itself open to the charge of hypocrisy,” said
William Horsley, the AEJ’s Media Freedom Representative and AEJ UK chair, “by
seeking to evade the robust media scrutiny of its actions by independent
media that is essential in an open society, while it also claims to be acting
as a champion of media freedom to the rest of the world.”
More than 60,000 people have signed an online
petition urging the government to stop blocking media scrutiny.
On Feb. 3 - the first working day after the UK officially left
the EU – all British political journalists at an official briefing arranged
at the Downing Street residence of the prime minister walked
out to protest the government’s decision to separate and exclude critical
media on an arbitrary basis. The prime minister’s staff had invited selected
political journalists to a “technical briefing” on Boris Johnson’s plans for
a trade deal with the EU. When other members of the Westminster “lobby” –
full-time political journalists based in the Houses of Parliament – showed up
as well, the group was told only those invited could go in and the rest
should leave. All the journalists present including those specifically
invited then walked out. The prime minister’s aides claimed favoured
journalists are routinely being granted special access to some press
briefings a part of an “inner lobby” while others, essentially those
considered opponents of the government, are excluded. That even included
Press Association, the UK’s national news agency.
“We reserve the right to brief whoever we like, whenever we like”, said Lee
Cain, the prime minister’s communications director.
The political editor of Fleet Street tabloid Daily
Mirror, Pippa Crerar, called the
exclusion “sinister and sad”.
questions in the House of Commons the prime minister claimed he loved
journalism – he was once sacked from a reporting job at The Times for
making up a quote.
Please see here for more
Justice for Daphne?
Malta has a new
prime minister and the country’s police chief has
resigned in the ongoing scandal over the killing of investigative
Caruana Galizia. But there are still many questions for the long-running
and repeated calls for
justice in the killing. Aljazeera
has this report and AEJ UK member and former BBC journalist Firdevs
this look at breaks in the story. On Nov. 20 2019 one of the country’s
richest men, gambling and property entrepreneur Yorgen
Fenech, was arrested and in court two weeks later accused
of being the brains behind the killing. He’s denied the charges and
blamed allies of the prime minister. Two of them resigned and in the face of major
street protests Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said he
would resign. His government spent two years stonewalling any genuine
investigation and far longer rejecting accusations
of widespread money laundering, political corruption and cronyism. The
AEJ has joined a
call to closely monitor a public inquiry into her assassination which
opened on Dec. 6 2019.
AEJ conference and call for media freedom
The international Association of European Journalists opened its annual
conference on Friday Dec. 6 in Paris. Europe is no longer a completely safe
place for journalists or media freedom and panel discussions highlighted the
acute threats and the vital role of the media in the democratic process with
conclusions and recommendations from the meeting to be communicated to the
relevant authorities in UNESCO, the Council of Europe and the European Union.
For one example of the issues being faced please see this presentation on
failing media freedoms in Poland from Krzysztof Bobinski of the AEJ
Poland. The conference also led a call to
respect press freedom and journalistic independence from all the national
sections of the AEJ, Reporters Without Borders,
the European Federation of Journalists, the European Centre for Press and
Media Freedom, and the South East Europe Media Organisation.
Please see this
AEJ newsletter for more on
AEJ co-signs Open Letter for upgraded efforts to
protect media freedom
The AEJ has co-signed a letter to the new Council of Europe
Secretary-General for upgraded measures to stop criminalizing and demonising
journalists, counter the toxic atmosphere of hostility to the media, and
stamp out impunity. For more please see here
AEJ joins call for new European Commission President to prioritize press
The AEJ joined the Committee to
Protect Journalists and others to ask the new President of the European
Commission to make key media issues a policy priority for the EU. The AEJ is
among 20 media and press freedom organisations urging Ursula von der Leyen to
take action on media freedom, journalists’ safety and access to public
information. For more please see
this on the AEJ International website.
See here for more news