Podcast: Problems Passing on the Torch
12 October 2021
A public debate on the freedom of the media in Central Europe (updated).
The debate addresses issues related to information sovereignty, what the EU can do regarding the right to information and the increase of media vulnerability during the pandemic crisis.
Moderated by Visegrad Insight Editor-in-Chief Wojciech Przybylski.
Without media pluralism, we cannot talk about democracy. The fight for independent media is a basic challenge to sustain democratic security in Central Europe (and everywhere else).
Autocratic politicians support chosen media politically and financially because they want to deploy them as propaganda tubes, forgetting that media are a fundamental element of a free society and access to reliable information is a basic human right.
In Hungary, media freedom exists only on paper and Poland’s government seems to be paving the way to go down a similar path and copy the Budapest scenario.
The EU Parliament has been looking into these issues as part of a rule of law mechanism, not least at the last plenary session with Commissioner Věra Jourová. Resilience is possible but we need to start talking before things like in Hungary happen.
What the EU can do is to support public independent media, and this would bring support to overall media pluralism. It can go on doing the monitoring, investigating into cases, but holding plenary sessions or even seeking options to use Article 2 shows the EU can deploy tools, and above all shows it treats the issue seriously.
The EU can treat media freedom as interrelated with other issues, such as the threat to the independent judiciary in Poland or assaults on minority rights – part of a systemic agenda seeking to limit or destroy democracy.