Borissov Has Been Disregarding “Reporters without Borders” for Half a Year
The European Commission will present action plans to protect independent journalism by the end of the year. This was announced by the Vice-President of the European Commission Věra Jourová during the conference "Media Freedom in Bulgaria", organized by EURACTIV Bulgaria and the Alliance of Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament.
The next EU budget will provide 61m euros in support of independent media and journalists. The European Commission will focus its efforts on ensuring pluralism in the digital media market in the Alliance, as well as to develop mechanisms to protect journalists from the so-called SLAPP cases. These are lawsuits filed in order to silence critics and impose censorship.
By the end of September, a number of pilot projects will be launched to provide legal and practical assistance to investigative journalists at the European Centre for Media Freedom.
The Vice-President of the Committee stressed that the EC has prepared an objective assessment of the media situation in the European Union. The conclusions for Bulgaria are: a lack of transparency in media ownership and the distribution of European money for advertising, which is the responsibility of the state. The Bulgarian media are subject to political influence, there are also alarming reports of attacks on journalists.
Jourová stressed that European advertising money should be allocated through legally conducted public procurement.
"Bulgaria is a collective image of all the problems with press freedom that we find in the European Union and in the Balkans," said Pavel Salay, “Reporters without Borders” Coordinator for the EU and the Balkans, quoted by EURACTIV.
He reminded that Bulgaria signed the Partnership for Information and Democracy in 2019 which had to guarantee freedom of expression globally. However, in his words, media freedom in Bulgaria continues to deteriorate and the Bulgarian government has no will to improve the situation.
Salay pointed out that the team of “Reporters without Borders” met with Prime Minister Boyko Borisov in 2019. At the meeting, the organization promised to present its proposals to improve the media environment in the country.
In March, “Reporters without Borders” fulfilled their commitments and sent Borisov a "Roadmap for Media Policy in Bulgaria". It proposed that a national and independent commission to improve media freedom be established.
Six months later, the Prime Minister completely ignored the “Reporters without Borders” attempts to get in touch with him to obtain a feedback on the roadmap.