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ASSOCIATION OF EUROPEAN  JOURNALISTS

UNITED KINGDOM SECTION

The AEJ is active across Europe. Please visit www.aej.org and check AEJ Newsletters to see what it is doing for its members

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Brexit

Former prime minister of Finland and EU insider on Brexit:

Alexander Stubb told another packed AEJ-UK meeting he believes Brexit is lose-lose for both the UK and the rest of the EU. And to avoid further damage the former finance minister and leader of Finland’s centre-right National Coalition Party has his own blueprint for a “soft Brexit”. William Horsley made these notes on his ideas discussed on 19 Sept. Before stepping down as finance minister and party leader, Stubb served Finland as trade and Europe Minister, foreign minister, MEP and adviser to EU Commission President Romano Prodi.

 

Retired senior UK civil servant and trade negotiator on Brexit:

Sir Simon Fraser, former permanent under-secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, provided an insider’s view of Brexit at one of the largest AEJ-UK meetings in recent years. The 5 Sept. lunch meeting was packed with members and invited foreign correspondents to hear and question Sir Simon on the details, complications and issues involved in the upcoming process of UK extraction from the European Union. For more on this meeting please see this blog by AEJ member Jonathan Fryer and this report by BBC News. Sir Simon retired in July 2015 after a long career with the FCO including secondment to the European Commission; he is now managing partner at business consultancy Flint Global.

French Minister Axelle Lemaire on Brexit:
A French government minister provided the AEJ UK with a stark and critical assessment of the UK referendum campaign, the UK government’s post-vote strategy, and future prospects for both the UK and the rest of Europe.
Axelle Lemaire, Minister for Digital Affairs in the French Ministry for the Economy and Industry since April 2014, spoke in July at the AEJ UK’s first meeting since the referendum vote in which the British public voted 52% to 48% to leave the EU.
UK chairman William Horsley made these notes of an animated and informative exchange on July 14, Bastille Day.

AEJ condemns killing of British MP:  
Jo Cox, the  MP for Batley and Spen, was killed on June 16 in Birstall, West Yorkshire. 
The Association of European Journalists issued a statement condemning the murder of the 41-year-old Labour Member of the British Parliament who was shot and killed in her Yorkshire constituency. Jo Cox had reportedly received threats of violence before the deadly attack. Such acts of extreme violence can have a chilling effect on the robust exchange of arguments, opinions and information which are the essence of open democratic societies. The UK media as well as political parties rightly agreed to temporarily suspend the EU referendum campaign as a sign of respect to Ms Cox, who was a wife, a mother of two young girls, and a newly-elected MP respected for her integrity, tolerance and compassionate concern for the plight of Syrian refugee children. Remembering the death of the leading Swedish politician Anna Lindh in 2003, we deeply regret that a woman politician has again been murdered during an EU-related referendum campaign. Jo Cox’s death, at the height of a fiercely-fought and sometimes aggressive campaign before the June 24th referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union, reminds us of the importance of tolerance and rationality as well as passion in the conduct of public life, and in the reporting and debating of controversial matters in all kinds of media.


Latest Briefings

A selection of writings with an AEJ connection

Kevin d’Arcy, former AEJ UK executive secretary, has an article in the New European newspaper Issue #10 on the EU and its communications.

Jonathan Fryer, an AEJ member of long standing, writes this blog

Firdevs Robinson's writing is now accessible on FirdevsTalkTurkey.com

William Horsley blogs on BBC Academy

Anthony Robinson: Corruption and the long arm of Moscow in central Europe.
Blog from the AEJ Congress in Sibiu, Romania:  6-7 November 2015 (10 November 2015)

 

Lunchtime meetings

Meetings are held at the European Parliament’s London Office (Europe House, 32 Smith Square, SW1P 3EU) and usually start at 12:30. A fee of £25 is charged to cover the cost of refreshments - £10 for under-25s and free admission may be extended to students on a discretionary basis.

8 November 2016

Mehmet Öğütçü

Former Turkish diplomat, OECD executive and now head of an energy and finance consultancy in London. He will discuss Turkey’s international relationships and situation in the wake of July’s reported coup and subsequent purge of opponents by the government. Please see here for more information about Mr. Öğütçü.

29 November 2016

Alex Salmond

Former First Minister of Scotland and now SNP international and Europe spokesman in the House of Commons.

For previous speakers’ details, see News. For a list of our recent lunchtime guests, see Past Events.

The EP’s UK website gives details of its own events, of which visitors may be notified by email.


Latest News

Turkish media freedom groups denounce ‘silencing’ of media:
T
he G-9 Platform of media and press freedom organisations in Turkey  has issued a statement and appeal “A Coup Against Journalists” condemning the wholesale closures of media, detentions and sackings of journalists, and other oppressive measures taken under state of emergency laws in Turkey. The international AEJ fully supports the statement and appeal which can be found here.

Turkey Crackdown:
For the latest information and alerts about violations of media freedom and attacks on the safety of journalists in Turkey please see Council of Europe’s Platform for the safety of journalists (www.coe.int). These alerts are sent directly and quickly to the state authorities in Turkey and other countries concerned. Their responses to allegations of violations are published on the platform. The AEJ is working closely on this day by day with the EFJ/IFJ, Article 19, Committee to Protect Journalists Index on Censorship, IPI and Reporters Without Borders. William Horsley, UK chairman and AEJ international Vice President and Media Freedom Representative, notes that “the arbitrary and sweeping arrests of journalists and closures of media outlets in Turkey are alarming and urgent. Many journalists who have not been arrested are obliged to lie low and not speak in public because of the dangers.” Horsley has an assessment of Turkey’s actions under the state of emergency on the international AEJ website. There is also a petition from Amnesty International calling on President Erdogan to uphold human rights in Turkey, even in a state of emergency. The petition here has options to sign - http://bit.ly/turkeyrights 

AEJ protest against Zaman seizure:
On 4 March the Turkish authorities seized the Istanbul headquarters offices of Zaman, Turkey’s largest circulation newspaper and one of the most outspokenly critical voices in the Turkish media. The action was taken on the basis of a court decision which failed to provide any proper evidence to justify taking the newspaper into forced administration. The Association of European Journalists (AEJ) condemned this blatant attack on press freedom. The seizure of the premises of Zaman with the use of massive police force came only three days before the March 7 EU leaders‘ summit with Turkey. The AEJ pressed the European Union and governments of its member states to forcefully condemn the seizure of Zaman and to demand that Turkey should stop the widespread judicial harassment and other attacks on press freedom, free all members of the media wrongly held in detention, and drop the ongoing criminal cases against numerous editors and journalists.  

Celia Hampton:
Sadly, Celia Hampton, our long-time secretary, treasurer and website editor, passed away on May 17 after a protracted illness.  Celia was a friend and colleague to many AEJ members and contributed an enormous amount to the AEJ in both the UK and internationally. Despite increasing frailty and ill health she continued to write regularly on her specialty legal matters before finally succumbing to the pulmonary illness which dogged much of her life in recent years. Please see our Obituaries section for more information and personal recollections.

World Press Freedom Day: 
A number of AEJ national sections marked World Press Freedom Day on May 3 as reported on www.aej.org Several sections produced reports and the AEJ Turkey took part as a member of the G-9 Platform, Freedom for Journalists (www.aej.org)
The 2016 World Press Freedom Day conference in Helsinki on May 2-4 was marked by a clamour of voices calling on Europe to recognise its own failings. William Horsley, AEJ UK Chairman and International AEJ Representative for Media Freedom, has these reflections on the issues.

AEJ Greece awards Journalism Prize to Peter Kramer:
The prize, made by the Greek section of the AEJ, was awarded to Peter Kramer, former AEJ Secretary-General. It was presented by HE Mr Prokopios Pavlopoulos, President of the Hellenic Republic, on 20 April. Congratulations to Peter, a great friend of ours. See www.aej.org and europeanbusinessreview.eu (1 May 2016)

AEJ hails new commitments on journalism:
The AEJ welcomed the new set of political commitments to protect journalism and the safety of journalists adopted by the Council of Europe on 13 April. See www.aej.org, the text of the recommendation and the Council of Europe press release. (14 April 2016)

Concern over Romania’s public broadcasting:
A hasty reform of the legislation governing the heavily indebted public sector broadcasting organisation has raised AEJ concerns. (10 March 2016)

EU to examine Poland’s highest court:
The European Commission announced a preliminary assessment of the rule of law in Poland in light of the changes made to the Constitutional Court’s statute.

Poland media law:
Poland’s President Andrzej Duda signed the media bill into law on 7 January. Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, had asked President Duda to open a dialogue with the Council on article 10 ECHR before signing it. See aej.org. Die Presse has published the AEJ’s open letter to the Polish President. See aej.org. (11 January 2016) and this summary by the AEJ Media Freedom Representative. (5 January 2016)

Europe’s press freedom record in 2015:
A survey by Politico’s Alex Spence catalogues the arrests, assaults, murders and legal restraints suffered by Europe’s journalists in 2015. “An awful year.” See aej.org (31 December 2015)

 

 

About us

The AEJ is an independent, self-funding association for journalists, writers and specialists in European affairs. The UK section is part of a Europe-wide network of some 20 national sections across Europe, with more than 1000 members in all.

In the UK section, we arrange for leading newsmakers from across Europe to give briefings to us about once a month, over lunch at the office of the European Parliament in London. We also organise special events, such as seminars, from time to time.

The AEJ offers journalists the chance to be part of a network of media professionals and experts on European issues. Membership can provide valuable mutual support for individual journalists (it is open to both UK and non-UK nationals). If you would like to join, please go to the Membership page.

We are not tied to any institutional or political group but are recognised by the Council of Europe, the OSCE and UNESCO. Our goals are to advance knowledge and debate on European affairs and to uphold media freedom.

Internationally, the AEJ has an active programme of professional activities and the annual AEJ Congress is a forum for debate on matters of common concern to journalists across the continent. A high priority is given to the AEJ's Media Freedom Project.


AEJ Media Freedom Project

The AEJ works to protect freedom of expression and independent journalism by bringing issues to the attention of governments and advising inter-governmental organisations on behalf of our members. The AEJ's Media Freedom Representative is William Horsley, a former BBC foreign correspondent and the current chairman of the UK section.

Since the AEJ Media Freedom Survey in 2007 (Goodbye to Freedom?), the AEJ has published Europe-wide surveys that reveal the erosion of press freedom through physical assaults, wrongful imprisonment, oppressive laws, and unacceptable political and commercial pressures.

The AEJ is an observer at the Council of Europe. Since 2 April 2015, it has been one of the five partners in the Council’s online platform for early warning of and rapid response to attacks on the media. For more information, see Media Freedom.

The AEJ actively supports the ongoing efforts of UNESCO, the UN Agency with a mandate to safeguard media freedom, to implement the draft UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity (text). The AEJ Media Freedom Representative authored the OSCE's Safety of Journalists Guidebook setting out the obligations of participating states to protect the security of journalists, including those using the Internet.

Our campaigns and activities can also be tracked on the Media Freedom and News pages of the international AEJ website, www.aej.org


AEJ and the Council of Europe

The AEJ takes part in the policy work of the Council of Europe (CoE) on key issues of media freedom as a participant in the Steering Committee on Media and Information Society and the Platform to Promote the Protection of Journalism and the Safety of Journalists. It works on behalf of its members across Europe to hold the CoE and its 47 member states to their commitments on media freedom and freedom of expression.

To read further, please go to Media Freedom.


Media visits to the European Parliament

The EP’s London Office has a small budget to offset some of the travel and hotel costs incurred by journalists when visiting the European Parliament. Only a limited number can be helped in this way, so you must first be invited by the UK Office before seeking reimbursement (see EP website).