On 24 April, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) published its annual World Press Freedom Index. This year, the Index paints a particularly grim picture of the state of freedom of expression in Europe. RSF’s regional analysis points out that “[Europe] has been shaken by two murders, as well as by threats to investigative reporters and unprecedented verbal attacks on the media”. Threats and attacks are most prevalent in Central and Eastern Europe, and we note with deep concern that the situation in many European societies both inside and outside of the EU is getting worse by the year. Moreover, it is alarming that the deteriorated conditions for the freedoms of expression and the press concern all parts of Europe, even societies that traditionally feature a relatively favourable climate for journalists and constitutionally shall protect these freedoms.
As European youth organisations, we extend our condolences and our solidarity to the attacked journalists as well as their family and friends. Having to pay such high prices for informing the public constitutes an attack on European democracy as a whole and should be treated as such.
A free press is one of the cornerstones of democracy. Without a free press, it is increasingly difficult to hold those in power accountable for their actions and fight corruption. Without a free press, we are not able to advance informed and meaningful participation of young people in society. Without a free press, the European project itself is at risk. It is therefore the responsibility of decision-makers to take effective measures to change the trend of shrinking space for the press and ensure that journalists can carry out their work without fearing reprisal. With this in mind, we:
· call upon all European politicians to respect the freedom, pluralism and independence of media, to refrain from using anti-media rhetoric and to accept the critical scrutiny of their own actions and decisions;
· urge all European political parties, the European Parliament, Commission and Council, as well as the Council of Europe to actively engage with organisations representing journalists, such as the European Federation of Journalists and its affiliated organisations, in order to increase the understanding among political decision-makers of the urgency to take effective measures supporting a free press and of what those measures could be;
· welcome the Investigative Journalism for EU fund and call upon European institutions to further examine how journalism that aims to uncover corruption, financial crime, human rights abuses and environmental damage transnationally as well as nationally can be encouraged across our continent.
European Youth Press - Network of Young Media Makers (EYP)
Federation of Young European Greens (FYEG)
Youth of the European People's Party (YEPP)
European Democrat Students (EDS)
International Federation of Liberal Youth (IFLRY)
European Liberal Youth (LYMEC)
Young European Socialists (YES)
Young Democrats for Europe (YDE)
Young European Federalists (JEF Europe)