German business on Brexit
There will be a Brexit deal says the leading voice of German business in
the UK. Bob Bischof, vice president of the German British Chamber of Industry
and Commerce and chairman of the German British Forum, said German business
is confident of a Brexit deal and made his case at an AEJ UK meeting on
February 20. See here
for a report on the meeting from AEJ member and former FT correspondent Peter Norman. And here for an audio
transcript of his remarks and subsequent questions and answers.
UK House of Lords to debate EU repeal law
The House of Lords is now debating the government’s EU withdrawal bill which
would bring all EU laws into UK legislation. On January 18 the House of Commons
voted to approve the repeal bill in third reading. The Lords are expected
to recommend further changes to Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit process
before sending it back to the House of Commons for final approval – as well
as opposing the bill’s sweeping powers to rewrite laws after Brexit.
Opponents in both the opposition and governing party say the May government
is attempting a power grab - giving themselves powers to avoid parliamentary
scrutiny and use the legislation to weaken or destroy employment,
environmental, equality and human rights protections. The Conservatives have
number of Lords but no majority and can be outvoted by opponents.
The House of Commons voted 324 to 295 on the repeal bill just over a month
after they handed
Prime Minister Theresa May a major defeat in her stride to Brexit. The
Commons voted narrowly on December 13 – 309 to 305 – to force her government
to guarantee Parliament a “meaningful vote” on any final deal reached in
negotiations with the EU. Eleven
Tory MPs joined all members of Opposition parties to vote against the
Earlier, on 12 September 2017, the House of Commons narrowly voted to allow more
debate on the massive repeal bill. The vote was 326 to 290. The UK and EU
began historic talks on June 19 2017 over British plans to leave the EU. Please see these
links for more:
Lord Andrew Adonis says it's time to stop Brexit. And 7 weeks
after outlining concerns to the AEJ, he underlined them in Christmas week by resigning
as infrastructure tsar for the Conservative government of Theresa May. At
an AEJ-UK lunch meeting on Nov. 9, the Labour peer and former Labour minister
for education and for transport offered even odds on reversing the current
political process to exit the European Union. Speaking while he was still
chair of the UK Infrastructure Commission, Lord Adonis said the next 18
months are crucial. For more on his analysis to the AEJ-UK please see this report from AEJ member and former FT correspondent Peter Norman.
Brexit will not happen
- says Paddy Ashdown, former leader of the Liberal
Democrats and now the party's leading elder statesman. As recently as July, Lord Ashdown of
Norton-sub-Hamdon - Liberal Democrat leader from 1988 to 1999 and a bitter
opponent of Brexit - expected Brexit to take place. But now he has changed his mind and thinks Brexit will not
happen. Speaking to the AEJ's
lunchtime meeting on 12 October 2017, he painted a
grim picture of a dysfunctional UK government that is incapable of negotiating
a satisfactory withdrawal from the EU and which could collapse next year. By
a narrow margin, he believes Britain will stay in the EU but retreat from an
active international role and lose global influence. Drawing on his many and
varied experiences as a Royal Marine, intelligence officer, diplomat,
politician and international administrator, Lord Ashdown also commented on a
range of international issues in this "most dangerous, volatile and
frightening age" of his lifetime. Please see this summary of his
remarks from AEJ member and former FT
correspondent Peter Norman.
Article 50 can be stopped or revoked
author of Article 50, Lord John Kerr of Kinlochard, says negotiators for both
the UK and the EU have made fundamental mistakes and become mired in public
disagreements. And he warned of a "precipice" in the UK's relations
with the EU if the talks end without agreement. At a meeting of the
AEJ UK on September 15 2017
he also said there is nothing in the law to prevent the UK from
changing its mind and stopping or revoking the process of UK exit from the
EU. It's by no means the first time he's said this but at the AEJ UK meeting
he spelled out his analysis of the Brexit process in forensic detail. A
former head of the UK Foreign Office and a cross-bench (independent) peer
since 2004, Lord Kerr has emerged as a
severe critic of the UK government's approach to Brexit. He has called for a
halt to the Brexit process and a national debate in the UK to think again
about leaving the EU, previously describing the UK government's actions since
the referendum as "a completely wasted year while the Tories negotiated
with themselves". See this detailed
report by AEJ UK chairman William Horsley and an audio recording
of the meeting.
Known in Brussels as a wily and
effective negotiator, Lord Kerr held senior posts in the UK Treasury as well as
the Foreign Office. He was UK ambassador to the EU and the U.S. before taking
the top Foreign Office job in 1997. In 2002/3, after retiring as a UK
diplomat, he was secretary general to the European Convention, where he
drafted the EU exit clause that became Article 50. For more on his recent
positions please see:
MPs face rising levels of abuse and
A survey by the BBC
has confirmed growing levels of abuse and death threats to MPs. This issue
was sadly highlighted by the killing of Jo
Cox, the MP for Batley and Spen,
on June 16 2016 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. The AEJ
said 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
On Nov. 23 2016
Thomas Mair, a 53-year-old
unemployed gardener, was sentenced to prison for the rest of his life for the
murder. He had shot the MP twice
in the head and once in the chest with a sawn-off hunting rifle before
stabbing her 15 times. At the
sentencing hearing the judge described Ms. Cox as "passionate,
open-hearted, inclusive and generous" and a true patriot while the
murderer "affected to be a patriot". The judge explained: "It is evident from
your internet searches that your inspiration is not love of country or your
fellow citizens, it is an admiration for Nazis and similar anti-democratic
white supremacist creeds."
Theresa May's election gamble backfires
headlines said it all on the morning after the 2016 UK election. Prime
Minister Theresa May lost 13 seats and in the coming months possibly her own
job. She was forced to lose
her two long-time key advisers who designed the Conservative election
manifesto, ran her office and in
effect her management of the government for the last year, leaving her
even more vulnerable to pressures inside her party. Her Conservative party
won the largest number of seats in Parliament - 318 - but lost its
Parliamentary majority. So she has the opportunity to form a new government
anger and opposition inside her own party and minimal likelihood of much
support from outside it. The result raises questions not only about Mrs.
May's own future but also about the stability of the UK government, its
ability to negotiate Brexit, and its very competence to govern. If this new
Conservative government fails to work then it is possible that the leader of
the next largest party, Jeremy Corbyn of Labour, will be asked to form a
government. A number of Labour policies have been echoed by nearly all the
other opposition parties but even if all of their MPs joined an alliance they
would still not have an overall majority. No single party in this Parliament
has an overall majority - more seats than all other parties combined
-quaintly called in the UK a "hung Parliament". In many other
countries it is simply known as a minority government which can often govern
for significant amounts of time with or without formal coalitions. Many
commentators are expecting another election long before the current statutory
5 years. For the moment Mrs. May has said she will
work with Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party which won 10 seats
in the UK Parliament. Most observers do not expect this to work for long -
is a socially conservative party with positions on abortion, gay rights
and climate change that are inconsistent with UK law, has close historical
ties to the Protestant community, and is a key partner in the Northern
Ireland peace agreement in which the UK government is supposed to be a
Read more on the
UK Parliament votes for Brexit
It was less than a month before the election call that Mrs. May's government
won a complex political struggle in Parliament over launching its countdown
to leave the European Union. UK Prime Minister Theresa May's letter
formally triggering Article 50 was hand delivered to Donald Tusk, president
of the European Council, on March 29 2017. It begins a historic two-year negotiation that
40 years of integration with the rest of Europe - and will rock the
foundations of both the European Union and the United Kingdom.
For more on the Brexit vote and background
information please see here.
The French election…
was a recipe for
uncertainty even just 2 weeks before the vote said political scientist and
columnist Dominique Moisi. He said the presidential election was the most
unpredictable and most important that he could remember in a lifetime of
observing and analysing French politics and international affairs. At the AEJ
UK on 6 April 2017,
Moisi said that if Brexit is likely to damage the EU then a victory for
Marine le Pen and her far-right Front National would be far worse. For more
on Moisi's outline of the French election campaign please see this report from AEJ member
Quentin Peel, this audio transcript
of Moisi's presentation and following questions and answers, and Moisi's own
AEJ plugs into reaction in Europe
As the UK
government was launching its exit from the European Union, the AEJ plugged
into a chorus of discordant voices at the European Parliament in Brussels.
AEJ journalists met with MEPs from all parts of Europe and all the political
groups for 2 days of lively debates in the run-up to the UK's delivery of its
`Brexit letter' on March 29 2017. The event took place
as the EU sailed into unknown territory beyond its 60th birthday and the UK
prepares its own lifeboat to disembark from the mother ship. AEJ UK chairman
William Horsley has this
detailed report on a range of European voices.
And AEJ UK member Tony Robinson has these "personal musings"
on the EU and its future after his participation in the European
Parliament seminar with AEJ journalists from across Europe.
Brexit and globalisation
Donald Trump's advisers are "stuck in the dark
ages" and the UK government of Theresa May has yet to "get
real" about Brexit says the man dubbed the high priest of globalisation.
Jim O'Neill is the former chief economist of Goldman Sachs who coined the
term BRICs in 2001 for the rising economies of Brazil, Russia, India and
China; a former Treasury minister in David Cameron's Conservative government;
and one of the world's pre-eminent proponents of globalisation. He says the
populist politics of Brexit and Donald Trump are hostile to further growth
and out of sync with world economic trends. Despite much of the political rhetoric
surrounding both Trump and Brexit - and from other political leaders - he
says world economic growth is not slowing, noting that in this decade it is
in line with performance in the 1980s and 1990 and "not as weak as often perceived"
by western leaders. For more on his
nuanced and informed briefing to the AEJ UK on March 13 2017 please see this report on the meeting from
AEJ member and former FT correspondent Peter Norman;
and here for an audio transcript
of Lord O'Neill's remarks and following questions and answers. And for more of his comments on Brexit see
this report on Politico.
On the wider issue of globalisation, Lord O'Neill of Gatley has recently been
articles and on a BBC radio series for a
re-examination and urging business leaders to address issues which have left
vast numbers of industrial workers and regions in the western world reeling
Brexit and cultural revolution
One of Britain's foremost
constitutional experts says last year's referendum vote for Brexit shows that
Britain is a totally different country from its continental neighbours. At a
meeting of the AEJ UK on Feb.15 2017 Vernon
Bogdanor, a historian and constitutional adviser to a number of governments
around the world, explained the vote as the result of a long-simmering
cultural revolt. In a wide ranging interpretation of the Brexit vote and its
ramifications Prof. Bogdanor also said that it endangers stability in
Northern Ireland; Leave voters are likely to suffer most from the
consequences of Brexit; current political leaders in England are deceived
about the deal they can reach; and there is still a possibility that the
Brexit process can be aborted. For more on this meeting please see this report from AEJ UK Chairman William
Horsley. Prof. Bogdanor is research professor at the Institute for
Contemporary British History at King's College London, and former professor
of government at Oxford University and senior tutor and vice-principal at
Brasenose College. He was awarded a CBE for services to constitutional
history in 1998 and is a Fellow of the British Academy.
Alex Salmond and two of his Scottish National Party MPs
provided a preview of SNP plans on Brexit as they treated us to one of the
more memorable meetings of 2016 on Nov. 29. While the former First
Minister of Scotland was trapped in a broken-down Heathrow Express and
running late, his two MPs - Stephen Gethins and Tasmina Ahmed-Shah -
valiantly tried for 45 minutes to answer a barrage of questions about their
plans for dealing with Brexit. When Salmond arrived he brought both calm and
some clear answers on SNP strategy: a desire to stay in the EU, retention of trading and economic relationships in
Europe, and as necessary a referendum on independence for Scotland. His
clarity came weeks ahead of the official
SNP blueprint released on Dec. 20 by Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's
First Minister, setting out in detail how the SNP believes the Scottish vote
on the EU in/out referendum should be respected. For more on this enlightening - and
entertaining - meeting please
see these notes from AEJ members David Lennon and Rick Thompson.
For one - of many - analyses of the connection between the
election of Donald Trump and Brexit please see here
for a European perspective. And here is a quick
survey of media coverage of his victory on Nov. 8 2016.
AEJ UK member and
former FT correspondent Anthony Robinson has these reflections on the world
post Trump and post Brexit - from
the AEJ congress as well as the Brexit campaign
just last June.
Perhaps unsurprisingly the issue of
Brexit was on every delegate's mind and their lips at the AEJ's 2016
Congress in Kilkenny in southeastern Ireland on 4 -6 November - and in
reporting of the event. The congress debated Brexit and the rise of
demagoguery, the threat to journalism in a brave new media world, and talk of
a so-called `post-truth era', under the overall theme of `The changing face
of Europe and its media'. William Horsley,
AEJ Vice President and Media Freedom Representative, has this account of the
highly charged discussions.
Press coverage focussed on Brexit at the AEJ meeting can be
Collins Irish Times
Lord irish Times
Kelpie and Cormac McQuinn The Independent
Also here and in these three articles from the Austria
Press Agency were written by Thomas Karabaczek, president of the
Austrian section, and quoted in Austrian dailies (edited translation via
another subject discussed at the Kilkenny congress see
this article by Bruce Clark in The Economist on threats to media freedom
in the Balkans.
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 2016. 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
Retired senior UK civil servant and trade negotiator on
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. 2016 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 2016 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, 2016.
A selection of AEJ-related writings and activities
Kevin d'Arcy, former AEJ UK secretary, has just
published a new book "Adventures
in the Gardens of Democracy"
AEJ member - and journalist, author and politician - Jonathan Fryer has been
appointed Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman for London. Please see his blog here.
Robinson's writing is now accessible on FirdevsTalkTurkey.com
William Horsley blogs on BBC
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)
are held at the European Parliament's London Office (Europe House, 32 Smith
Square, SW1P 3EU) and usually start at 12:30. AEJ meetings are open to
journalists, academics and Europe specialists and guests. Pre-registration is
necessary by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
The chairman of the UK Equality and
Human Rights Commission will speak about UK Human Rights after Brexit.
Dr. Yu Jie
The head of China Foresight at LSE Ideas will provide
insights into Chinese foreign policy and who‘s in charge.
Sir Keir Starmer
The Shadow Secretary of
State for Exiting the European Union has led Labour’s position on Brexit
since being appointed to the shadow cabinet in October 2016. Before winning
election in 2015 as the MP for Holborn and St. Pancras in London, he was
Director of Public Prosecutions from 2008 to 2013 and a barrister for nearly
30 years with a particular interest in human rights and capital punishment.
Tom Tugendhat, Conservative MP
The chairman of the House of
Commons Foreign Affairs Committee will offer his thoughts on a new UK foreign
policy agenda in the light of Brexit and other global developments.
previous speakers' details and a list of our recent lunchtime guests see Past Events.
EP's UK website gives details of its own events of
which visitors may be notified by email.
Fake News undermines democracy...
and even confuses expert researchers
Two new reports try to examine the difficult phenomenon of
fake news. The AEJ has issued
a road map on how to respond after a detailed consultation by Irina
Nedeva, its adviser on fake news issues, with input from the AEJ-UK’s William
Horsley, former BBC Europe correspondent, and Rick Thompson, former BBC News
executive. The AEJ report
recommends: invest in media literacy, boost professional journalism, create incentives
for ethical media, and increase awareness of political misuse of news.
Across the Atlantic in the USA, Nieman Labs has a disturbing report on how
difficult deciphering false information from reality is even for expert researchers.
the article here.
Poland, media freedom and Lech Walesa
Poland, the cradle of the Soviet Union collapse, is once again
a frontline in the fight for press freedom in Europe. And Lech Walesa -
former Solidarity leader, president of
Poland, and Nobel Prize winner - recently urged a gathering of journalists to hold fast to press
freedom and free speech. He was addressing a meeting in Gdansk of journalists
and civil rights activists from across Europe who debated strategies for
fighting back against reverses for press freedom across Europe. William
Horsley, AEJ UK chairman and AEJ International vice president and
representative for media freedom, was in Gdansk and has this account of the event.
Friends and colleagues commemorated AEJ UK founder member Roger Broad at the
Reform Club in London on 2 February.
It was with enormous sadness that the AEJ UK learned of his death on
Aug. 17 2017 from complications following heart surgery. Please see here for more about Roger and this story of his career
from former colleague Michael Berendt.
The European Bank for
Reconstruction and Development’s chief economist says populist government
benefits corrupt elites. And Sergei Guriev, linking the rise of nationalist
populism in western countries with “reform reversal” in some post-communist
countries, argues that populist governments remove political checks and do
not create free markets and democracy whereas states which consolidate
democracy do well. He was speaking at the AEJ’s first meeting of 2018 on
January 17 about the political economy of reform in Europe and its
neighbourhood. Dr. Guriev is a former senior Russian economic policy advisor
now in exile and working for the EBRD. His bank’s Transition 2017-18 report
shows economic performance in many parts of the former Soviet Union has
fallen behind other global emerging markets because of excessive state
controls and weak corporate governance. His remarks before he
went off the record are here - and they prompted these personal
reflections from AEJ member Anthony Robinson, a former east Europe editor
of the Financial Times.
Concern about investigation into Maltese
The AEJ has joined its
partners in the Council of Europe Platform for the Promotion of Journalism
and the Protection of Journalists to express deep concern over the
lack of progress in the investigation into the murder of Maltese
journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
The media freedom
groups “… join Daphne Caruana Galizia’s family in calling on the
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to appoint a special
rapporteur to monitor the ongoing murder investigation and make an assessment
of the contextual circumstances that led to her murder.”
The AEJ international
president Otmar Lahodynsky recently joined a fact-finding media freedom
mission to Croatia. After talks with politicians, journalists, and trade
unionists the participating organisations agreed that the major problems to
be addressed include political pressures on the public broadcasting station
HRT, the lack of transparency of media ownership and the destructive
influence of hate speech on the society. Please see more here on the international AEJ website
The AEJ and fake
Fake news and attempts to undermine
media credibility were the main topics at the AEJ's 2017 Congress
in Vilnius, Lithuania. The congress continued the debate from last year on
threats to journalism in what some call a post-truth era. For a recent American take on fake
news see this column by AEJ congress guest panelist and longtime American
journalist Llewellyn King. For more on the congress please see this report from AEJ UK
chairman and international vice president on media freedom William Horsley
and more on the AEJ
International site. And for
details of the panel discussions along with audio transcripts of the
discussions please see our AEJ in
French Section protests against Polish government pressure on
The French Section of the AEJ
has vigorously protested against attempts by Polish state TV to pressure
Dorota Bawolek, Brussels correspondent of the independent Polsat TV channel,
over her questioning of the latest moves by the Polish government to take political
control of the country's judiciary. Read the full release from the AEJ French
AEJ welcomes new OSCE
Representative on Freedom of the Media
of European Journalists has welcomed the appointment of Harlem Desir,
a former French minister for European Affairs and president of SOS Racisme,
as the OSCE's new Representative on Media Freedom. For the announcement please see
joins Turkish opposition march for justice
On June 17 2017 AEJ Honorary Vice Chair and
Turkey Representative L. Dogan Tilic joined an opposition march for
justice. Turkey's main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu. began his
march from Ankara to Istanbul following the arrest of Enis Berberoglu, an MP
of his Republican People's Party (CHP) and former editor-in-chief of the
daily newspaper Hurriyet.
The man who saw the reunification of Germany and himself as the master
builder of a united Europe died on 16 June 2017. AEJ-UK chair William Horsley
was the BBC's Germany correspondent in the 1990s and had these reflections - broadcast on
the BBC's From Our
Own Correspondent (at 6:22 in)- as the UK starts to leave Europe.
Thomas Rid, Professor in Security Studies at the War Studies Department of Kings College London, talked about
"Hacks, Leaks and Dirty Tricks" at an AEJ-UK lunch on 15 June 2017. He spoke off the record under Chatham
House rules about disinformation attacks by nations. For more you can see his blog and this article last year
about how "Russia
pulled off the biggest election hack in U.S. history".
AEJ and World Press Freedom Day
In the UK, AEJ UK chairman
and international vice president William Horsley joined a panel debate
focussed on women who risk their lives to report government abuse, civil
conflict and religious intolerance in difficult regions of the world. The
debate on May 3 2017 was sparked by the first screening in the UK of `Velvet
Revolution', which tells the powerful stories of six women journalists from
the Philippines to Syria and Azerbaijan. The film's executive producer,
Indian journalist and film maker Nupur Basu, and Rebecca Vincent, director of
the London bureau of Reporters Without Border, were among the speakers at
Senate House, headquarters of the University of London, and hosted by the
Institute of Commonwealth Studies in cooperation with the Commonwealth
Please also see this
article by William on the growing infiltration and takeover of media
houses by state interests and others for dubious purposes.
For more on the AEJ and other
media freedom organizations' activity to mark World Press Freedom Day across
Europe please see AEJ
International website. Annual reports from media monitoring organisations
show a further steep decline in media freedom and protection for
Survey reveals widespread intimidation of journalists in both eastern and
The Council of Europe has published the results of the first large-scale
survey of journalists across Europe. More than two-thirds of the 940
journalists taking part said they had experienced physical assaults,
intimidation or harassment on account of their work in the past three
years. The AEJ's Representative
for Media Freedom and AEJ UK chairman William Horsley described the survey as
a "wake-up call" to national governments in Europe to review their
laws and practices to better protect press freedom. "This survey,"
he added, "demonstrates how the increasingly hostile working conditions
for journalists reflect dangerously repressive tendencies in states across
east and west Europe, and a shrinking of the space for free speech and the
proper scrutiny of state power." See here for more on the survey
conducted by experts from the University of Malta and supported by the AEJ, the
European Federation of Journalists, Index on Censorship, International News
Safety Institute and Reporters Without Borders. And here
for the survey itself, also on
the UK website.
At the same time the Council of Europe has released its annual
report from the Council's Secretary-General on the State of Democracy, Human
Rights and the Rule of Law in Europe. The report highlights a dangerous
tendency towards "legislative nationalism", showing nearly half the Council's 47
member states fail to satisfactorily guarantee the safety of journalists,
with an increase in violence against journalists, criminalisation of the
media's newsgathering work, and growing threats to whistle-blowers and the
ability of journalists to protect their confidential sources.
Analysis of media coverage - UK and USA
For an analysis of UK
press coverage of the Brexit issue please see this
link written by AEJ UK chairman William Horsley.
For a forecast of trends in journalism in 2017 see this
analysis by the Reuters Institute.
And look at this
detailed study in the Columbia Journalism Review on how the right-wing
media in the USA changed both the U.S. election result and the broader media
Are we safe?
In the UK this
has not really been a major question - political or military - for the last
25 years. But it's high time to re-think that says one of Britain's most respected
and formerly highest ranking soldiers. General Sir Richard Barrons argues
that we need a major strategic revamp and new vision. In the AEJ UK's first
meeting of 2017, the recently retired head of UK
Joint Forces Command provided a striking analysis of the strategic gaps
and weaknesses in UK and European defences and what he sees as profound
failures of strategic decision-making in recent years. For more on this
meeting please see here or this full
audio transcript of his analysis and questions and answers.
AEJ joins mission and call for press freedom in Turkey
The AEJ has just
completed an emergency mission to
Turkey and joined five other international watchdog organizations in a
new declaratuon of concern.
Appeal for OSCE commitment to media freedom
Eight leading media
freedom organizations have appealed to the Organization for Security and
Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to ensure the continuation of the Office of the
OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media. The organizations including the
AEJ, Reporters Without Borders, the European Federation of Journalists and
the International Federation of Journalists have sent a letter of appeal to
the OSCE's Permanent Council. For more see the AEJ International website and
the appeal letter
European Human Rights
Convention best guarantee for UK press freedom?
The head of the UK Independent Press Standards
Organization (IPSO) - Sir Alan Moses - says the European Court of Human
Rights provides the best guarantees and safeguards for press freedom in the
UK, "better than any British courts". And he told a journalistic
audience that Fleet Street is thus "ill advised" to campaign to get
out of the Council of Europe. The head of IPSO, a former Appeals Court judge,
also applauded British press opposition to government attempts to create a
government press regulator. See here
for more on his presentation. IPSO
- set up and supported by major British newspaper owners - is involved in an
ongoing UK power struggle over media freedom and responsibility between major
publishers, the government and critics of media abuses. It was created after the 2011-12 Leveson Inquiry
into scandals about abuses of media freedom and intrusion into individuals'
private lives. A number of major independent media- including The Guardian,
The Financial Times, the Observer, the London Evening Standard, Private Eye,
BuzzFeed, Yahoo, and the Huffington Post - have been unwilling to sign up to
either IPSO or the government's recently inaugurated press regulator.
RSF issues appeal on Turkish press freedom
Reporters Without Borders has appealed to EU
leaders to do all in their power to rescue journalism in Turkey, where over
100 journalists have been jailed as suspected terrorists and over 700 press
cards have been rescinded. On a trip to London, exiled Turkish newspaper editor
Can Dundar warned that the coming referendum on changing the Turkish
constitution could lead to the country becoming a dictatorship.
Please see the AEJ
International site for more.
If you would like to join or onpass the RSF campaign see
Iris on media freedom
For analysis and
ongoing reports particularly on video media and freedom of expression see the Iris network site
- the European Audiovisual Observatory set up 25 years ago by the Council of
Europe to compile statistics and analyse Europe's tv, video and film
industries including broadcast news.
Donald Trump, fake news, and post truth.. for some reflections at the
beginning of 2017 please see:
Open letter from White House
press corps - from Columbia Journalism Review (courtesy of AEJ member Andrew
Dobbie as is the CJR article below)
The Coming Storm for Journalism
- from Columbia Journalism Review
York Times on fake news.
Who to blame for fake news -
Prospects for the American press
And prospects for journalism in
2017 from Nieman Labs:
for media freedom in Poland
AEJ Poland member Krzysztof Bobinski has an updated report
on the stand-off between journalists and the Polish government concerning
plans to restrict the media's physical access to parliament for
reporting. For more details see the AEJ International website.
Turkey post coup
"Turks love conspiracy theories" says international consultant
Mehmet Ogutcu - as do many people. Just returned from another frequent trip
to Turkey, the former Turkish diplomat, OECD
executive and now chairman of consultancy Global Resources Partnership
provided a detailed and well informed briefing on the current state of Turkey
at an AEJ-UK
lunch on Nov.8 2016. For more on this well attended and enlightening meeting
please see this
account from AEJ member Nevsal Hughes.
AEJ deplores abrupt closing of leading Hungarian
AEJ raised concerns about the sudden
closure of Nepszabadsag, Hungary's leading daily newspaper and one of the
last critical voices in the country's national media. The newspaper was
suddenly closed on Oct. 8 2016, prompting thousands of Budapest residents to
take to the streets to protest at what many see as a new attack on press
freedom in Hungary.
AEJ in Council of Europe consultations on Turkey's abuse of
The AEJ and 7 other European journalistic and press
freedom organisations have met
with the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe for intensive
discussions about the critical situation for independent journalism in
Turkey. In the wake of July's imposition of a state of emergency, there were
calls at the meeting in Strasbourg on Oct. 6 2016 for urgent action by
Turkish authorities, European governments and the Council of Europe to
prevent torture and mistreatment, ensure the exercise of impartial and
professional justice, and to end widespread abuse of the emergency laws. See
the AEJ report and the Council
of Europe statement.
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
Celia Hampton, our long-time secretary, treasurer and website editor, passed
away on May 17
2016 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.
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 national
sections across Europe.
In the UK section, we arrange for leading newsmakers to speak to us about
once a month, over lunch at the office of the European Parliament in
London. We also organise some seminars and events.
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
There is more information on this website - www.aej-uk.org - and on our new Facebook
independent of any institutional or political group and 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.
Individual members of other AEJ national sections
are very welcome to attend our meetings, by prior arrangement.
AEJ Media Freedom Project
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 and Vice President 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 and reports 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
eight partners in the Council's online platform
for early warning of and rapid response to attacks on the
media. For more information, see Media
The AEJ actively supports
the ongoing efforts of UNESCO, the UN Agency with a mandate to safeguard media
freedom, to implement the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. 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
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.
read further, please go to Media
Media visits to the European Parliament
The EP's London
Office has a small 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).