“Polarisation to the west, war and propaganda to the east” is how Reporters Without Borders sums up the press freedom situation in the EU.
European Union countries are “caught between two extremes” when it comes to press freedom, says Reporters Without Borders.
The NGO said there was “polarisation to the west, war and propaganda to the east”.
In its 2022 index, timed to coincide with World Press Freedom Day on 3 May, it found increased government control, public hostility and murders of journalists had worsened press freedoms across the bloc over the last year.
But it also highlighted that freedoms had “evolved considerably” in many countries, particularly in the Baltics.
Estonia and Lithuania — both former Communist states — are now in the world’s top ten at 4th and 9th respectively, while the Netherlands plummeted from 6th to 28th and Greece replaced Bulgaria in Europe’s last place at 108th.
Reporters Without Borders said these developments reflect three main trends.
This includes the “return of journalist murders” in the EU, public hostility over public health measures, which has led to reporters being attacked, and the intensification of “draconian laws”.
The NGO has examined the state of press freedom in 180 countries around the world every year since 2002.
Five criteria are used to assess the political, economic, socio-cultural, legal and security situation in each country, which were given a score from 0 to 100.
Europe remains at the top of the leaderboard.
Of the 10 countries in the world where press freedom is best guaranteed, eight are European. Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Portugal, and Lithuania all scored above 84.
Murders of journalists
Europe is facing a strong asymmetry between “open societies” that are attentive to the independence of journalists and “despotic regimes” that cut back on press freedom and “weaken democracies,” said Pavol Szalai, head of the Europe and Balkans desk at the Reporters Without Borders.
“We are seeing a return to the murder of journalists, sometimes even in major European cities,” said Szalai.
Last year, Greek journalist Giorgos Karaïvaz and Peter R. De Vries, from the Netherlands, were gunned down in Mafia-style attacks. […]
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