EurActiv: 40 MEPs call for EU leaders to protect the news media sector


An open letter to EU leaders from more than 40 MEPs calls for immediate actions to support Europe’s news media sector as it faces up to the sudden loss of advertising revenue caused by the COVID-19 crisis.

Read the full open letter from here > 


Dear President von der Leyen, Dear President Sassoli, Dear President Michel, Dear Vice-president Jourova, Dear Commissioner Breton, Dear Commissioner Gabriel,

Free, independent and sufficiently funded media are instrumental for a functioning democracy and for ensuring that citizens are well informed throughout this crisis. Authoritative and reliable news sources and quality journalism is an antidote to disinformation. People are currently relying on trustworthy news media more than ever, as reflected by growing readership and audience numbers.

Media pluralism and diversity were already decreasing before the COVID-19 outbreak. Many media outlets are still deeply scarred by the previous global financial crisis and have been too slow to recover. Furthermore, advertising is now primarily concentrating online, with US-based platforms taking the lion’s share of the pie.

Unless we act immediately, the current COVID-19 fallout will lead to failures of entire news organisations, which, in turn, may result in disastrous consequences for entire societies. We are already witnessing wage cuts, layoffs of staff and we are receiving signals from the media sector about possible bankruptcies within months if not weeks.

It is the responsibility of the European Union and the member states to address the situation without hesitation. We propose these immediate actions:

  • The Commission should launch an emergency fund for media and journalism — a NEWS grant programme in order to directly support news media and quality journalism. Special attention in all of the initiatives should be paid to local and regional media as well as for news media operating in small markets;


  • To fund the above programme, the Commission should explore the viability of redirecting from the ongoing programmes some of the unused funding due to COVID-19 outbreak;


  • The Commission should also consider other tailored support mechanisms such as providing young people with vouchers for subscriptions to news media, which would not only support the news media but also strengthen media literacy at the same time;


  • The Commission and the European Parliament should redirect communication budgets to national news media instead of global online platforms;


  • The European Parliament should explore possibilities for directing more support towards news media using pilot projects;


  • We encourage governments of the member states to provide direct and indirect support to media.


Yours Sincerely,

Dace Melbārde (ECR); Ramona Strugariu (Renew Europe); Irena Joveva (Renew Europe); Michaela Šojdrová (EPP); Niklas Nienaß (Greens/EFA); Victor Negrescu (S&D); Urmas Paet (Renew Europe); Roberts Zīle (ECR); Sandra Kalniete (EPP); Juozas Olekas (S&D); Inese Vaidere (EPP); Lídia Pereira (EPP); Andris Ameriks (S&D); Andrus Ansip (Renew Europe); Radan Kanev (EPP); Ivars Ijabs (Renew Europe); Anna Cavazzini (Greens/EFA); Petra Kammerevert (S&D); Andrey Slabakov (ECR); Marisa Matias (GUE/NGL); José Gusmão (GUE/NGL); David Casa (EPP); Monica Semedo (Renew Europe); Vlad-Marius Botoș (Renew Europe); Magdalena Adamowicz (EPP); Morten Løkkegaard (Renew Europe); Viola von Cramon-Taubadel (Greens/EFA); Tanja Fajon (S&D); Isabel Santos (S&D); Elena Yoncheva (S&D); Grace O’Sullivan (Greens/EFA); Laurence Farreng (Renew Europe); Łukasz Kohut (S&D); Klemen Grošelj (Renew Europe); Petri Sarvamaa (EPP); Ernest Urtasun (Greens/EFA); Ioan-Rareş Bogdan (EPP); Maria de Graça Carvalho (EPP); Ernest Urtasun (Greens/EFA); Anna Júlia Donáth (Renew Europe); Javier Nart (Renew Europe); Antonio López-Istúriz White (EPP)


Open letter: the EU must not sit idly by while a Member State’s democracy is in jeopardy


The recent actions of Viktor Orbán’s government in Hungary are a flagrant attack on the cornerstones of the rule of law and the values of the Union.  Last week, the government overrode the objections of the opposition and civil society, granting the Prime Minister indefinite powers to rule by decree. This law has also mandated draconian prison sentences for spreading ‘misinformation’ which could be used to stifle independent journalism.  


We urge the European Commission and the European Council to:

  • unequivocally condemn the Hungarian government’s misuse of the coronavirus crisis to erode democratic values.
  • more strictly control the spending of EU funds, and
  • enhance current measures that prevent the creation of an illiberal system within our Union.

Read the whole letter from here >



Transparency International EU 

Transparency International Hungary  

Access Info 

Africa Solidarity Centre Ireland 


AMARC Europe: World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters 


Association of European Journalists  

Campaign for Freedom of Information Scotland 

Citizens Network Watchdog Poland 

Civil Society Europe 

Corporate Europe Observatory 

Danes je nov dan / Today is a new day  

The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation 

Defend Democracy 

Democracy International 

EU DisinfoLab 

European Centre for Press and Media Freedom

European Federation of Journalists 

European Humanist Federation 


European Movement International 

European Youth Forum 

Staffan Dahllöf (Freelance reporter) 

Antonis Ventouris (Freelance) 


Free Press Unlimited 

Fundacja Miasto Obywatelskie Lubartów 

Funky Citizens 

Global Forum for Media Development 


The Good Lobby  

Human Rights Watch 

Hungarian Civil Liberties Union 

Hungarian Europe Society 

Hungarian Helsinki Committee  

International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, Europe 

International Press Institute 

JEF Europe (Young European Federalists) 

Lawyers for Human Rights 

Vigjilenca Abazi (of Maastricht University) 

Mertek Media Monitor 

Netherlands Helsinki Committee 

Open Society European Policy Institute

Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa 

The Oslo Center 

Professor Laurent Pech  (of Middlesex University) 

Poets, Essayists and Novelists International 

Reporters Without Borders  

Solidar and Solidar Foundation 

Unhack Democracy


 WeMove Europe 


Daniel Freund MEP, Co-ChairAnti-Corruption Intergroup

Petri Sarvamaa MEP, Bureau Member, Anti-Corruption Intergroup  

Lara Wolters MEP, Bureau Member, Anti-Corruption Intergroup 

Ramona Strugariu MEP, Bureau Member, Anti-Corruption Intergroup 

Stelios Kouloglou MEP, Bureau Member, Anti-Corruption Intergroup 

Abir Al-Sahlani MEP 

Anna Donath MEP 

Benoît Biteau MEP 

Brando Benifei MEP 

Caroline Roose MEP 

Claude Gruffat MEP 

Damien Carême MEP 

David Cormand MEP 

Dimitrios Papadimoulis MEP 

François Alfonsi MEP 

Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield MEP 

Karen Melchior MEP 

Karima Delli MEP 

Marie Toussaint MEP 

Michèle Rivasi MEP 

Mounir Satouri MEP 

Pascal Durand MEP 

Reinhard Bütikofer MEP 

Rosa D’Amato MEP 

Sabrina Pignedoli MEP   

Salima Yenbou MEP 

Sándor Rónai MEP 

Saskia Bricmont MEP 

Tineke Strik MEP 

Yannick Jadot MEP 


Time for EPP to kick out Viktor Orbán, Politico


Petri Sarvamaa is an MEP for Finland’s National Coalition Party, part of the European People’s Party and the Budgetary Control Committee rapporteur for the rule of law mechanism. 


Most of us agree that the European project is based on the principle of rule of law. We recognize that it is a prerequisite for democracy, stability and prosperity, and we know that, if we don’t defend it, the EU loses its credibility.

And yet for years we have watched as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has dismantled his country’s democracy and jeopardized European values from within the safety of the center-right European People’s Party (EPP), the largest group in the European Parliament.

His behavior has caused a rift in the group, which decided nearly a year ago to suspend his Fidesz party even while allowing its MEPs to remain part of the EPP in the Parliament. The party remains suspended, even as a three-man committee concluded its study on the situation in Hungary.

This limbo must end. Fidesz has become a corrupt, nationalistic, populist party under the control of a strongman. We can no longer stand behind them in good conscience and have to move quickly to kick them out.

Rather than revamping his agenda according to EPP values, Orbán has moved even further away from the group and shown no remorse.

To be sure, it will not be an easy decision. Many had hoped the party would change course and return to the fold. Indeed, Orbán was given plenty of opportunities to do so.

Instead, the route the Hungarian prime minister has chosen leaves the EPP no choice. Rather than revamping his agenda according to EPP values, he has moved even further away from the group and shown no remorse. If Fidesz were to remain a member of the EPP, we would be legitimizing Orbán’s dismantling of Hungarian democracy.

The prime minister and his party have devastated liberal democracy in Hungary over the last decade. His government has successfully destroyed the independence of the judiciary and changed electoral laws to their favor. It has dismantled the country’s independent media, by bringing TV stations and newspapers under the control of Orbán’s allies.

The Hungarian leader has used EU taxpayers’ money to consolidate his increasingly authoritarian regime, using agricultural subsidies as a patronage system that enriches his friends and family, protects his political interests and punishes his rivals. His nation-wide billboard campaign last year attacking George Soros and former European Commission President, and EPP colleague, Jean-Claude Juncker adds insult to injury.

For some time now, a number of EPP leaders have emphasized that those who do not believe in our common values and ideas for the future of Europe should not belong to the group. Last year, for example, the EPP group voted with a vast majority in favor of a new rule of law mechanism that would tie the distribution of EU funds to adherence to the rule of law.

It is high time to live up to these words. Under Orbán’s leadership, Fidesz has drifted too far from the core of what the EPP stands for.

Even as the EPP meets for its next political assembly, Orbán is expected to be sharing a stage in Italy with far-right figures like Matteo Salvini and Marion Maréchal. He has also praised U.S. President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson for their policies.

At the end of the day, this is not about Hungary, Orbán or Fidesz. Taking a clear stance that we won’t stand for someone running roughshod over our values sends an important message to the rest of Europe too. There are plenty of MEPs in other political groups — whether on the left or the right — who undermine core EU values.

The EPP must realize that a shared commitment to democracy and the rule of law is far more important than concerns over how votes will be divided between political groups if a member leaves the group.

We can’t have it both ways. We can’t keep Fidesz as a member of the group and also lecture others about the importance of European values. If we want to be on the right side of history, we can no longer afford to compromise with an increasingly authoritarian strongman.


Published in Politico, 29th of January 2020.