ASSOCIATION OF EUROPEAN  JOURNALISTS

UNITED KINGDOM SECTION

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Latest News

AEJ Congress 2015: This year’s annual congress will be held on 6-7 November in Sibiu, Romania’s second city. For the Romanian Section to organise this is greatly appreciated by all of us – it is the second time in five years that they have done so. If you wish to attend, please contact Margaret Hughes without delay (23 July 2015)

International AEJ Newsletter: The latest AEJ Newsletter has been published (23 July 2015)

ECHR ruling on online comments criticised: On 16 June, the Grand Chamber unanimously upheld an Estonian court ruling that an online news portal could not plead freedom of expression to escape liability for allowing defamatory or otherwise unlawful comments to be posted by readers. The AEJ joined the Media Legal Defence Initiative in expressing dismay at the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights. See aej.org (21 June 2015)

AEJ President on repressive EU draft: Otmar Lahodynsky has published a critique of the draft EU directive on trade secrets – a term that normally means proprietary knowhow. By extending legal liability to anyone publishing any secret business information obtained through a breach of confidentiality, it would seriously hamper investigative journalism. See aej-bulgaria.org (11 June 2015)

EU investigative journalism project frustrated: The European Commission has altered the conclusions of a 2013 study into EU financial support for selected investigative journalism projects (see press release). The study’s authors, a group of respected journalists and lawyers, conclude that there is a case for support. The version published by the Commission concludes that obstacles make the scheme unviable. A €1.5m budget line set aside for a trial has disappeared. MEPs are expected to ask the Ombudsman to investigate. (4 June 2015)

European journalists platform: In the first six weeks, 50 alerts were posted on the Council of Europe’s new platform for the protection of journalism and the safety of journalists. It was presented to the press in Brussels on 19 May by CoE Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland. He also published the annual State of Human Rights in Europe report on that day. For the AEJ’s intervention, see aej.org (25 May 2015)

Roger Morgan: Roger Morgan, a firm friend of the AEJ’s UK section, died on 3 March 2015. See Obituaries (21 May 2015)

EU draft on disclosure of business information: The AEJ has expressed its dismay at amendments to the draft directive on the protection of undisclosed know-how and business information. By restricting disclosure of internal company information, it could hinder investigative journalism into corporate conduct. See aej.org (8 May 2015)

World Press Freedom Day: For a guide to AEJ sections’ events on 3 May, see aej.org (1 May 2015)

Ukrainian journalists murdered: The AEJ has called on the government of Ukraine to investigate the contract-style killing of Oles Buzyna, a pro-Russian, on 16 April. Buzyna was a former editor of Segodyna. Three other killings that call for proper investigation include two journalists and a former MP. See aej.org (20 April 2015)

AEJ concern over abuse of Romanian journalists: The Association of European Journalists has expressed its grave concern about gratuitous verbal abuse and mockery directed against Romanian journalists Stelian Negrea and his wife, Eli Roman, by employees of the Antena 3 TV channel. See aej.org (15 April 2015)

Launch of internet platform on threats to journalists: The Council of Europe’s online reporting facility for threats to journalists and their safety was launched on 2 April. It can be viewed here (scroll down past the photograph). See also News for 28 November 2014, aej.org and Media Freedom (2 April 2015)

Council of Europe resolution on press and journalists: The Parliamentary Assembly adopted a new resolution on 29 January calling on various European countries, including the EU, to remedy violations of press freedom and fulfil their obligations to protect journalists. See aej.org (26 February 2015)

Juraj Alner a Légionnaire d'Honneur: One of our most distinguished colleagues has been granted the order of France's Légion d'Honneur. Juraj Alner has been a journalist and scholar since 1964 but he was excluded from journalism for the 20 years leading up to the fall of the Berlin Wall for being "anti-Communist". He was General Secretary of the international AEJ in the early 2000s and founder of the Slovak section. The President of France nominated him for his work on European integration and on Slovakia's accession to the EU. See aej.org (5 February 2015)

AEJ condemns barbaric murders in Paris: The AEJ expressed horror at this most bloody attack against French journalists and press freedom. It joined the French Section in expressing its deep condolence and solidarity with the victims' families and Charlie Hebdo's staff. See aej.org (7 January 2015)


Latest Briefings

A selection of writings with an AEJ connection

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

Otmar Lahodynsky: Why the new EU directive on trade secrets protection is a threat to media freedom (11 June 2015)

William Horsley: Should Europe boldly go into the media battleground? (10 March 2015)

William Horsley: Charlie Hebdo murders mean journalism just got more dangerous (9 January 2015)

Firdevs Robinson: Has Turkey come to the end of its EU journey? (19 December 2014)

Nick Hopkinson: Building bridges for a successful campaign to stay in the EU. European Movement conference report (25 November 2014)

Kevin d'Arcy: Review of Reporting the EU, by John Lloyd and Cristina Marconi, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (3 November 2014)

 

 

Lunchtime meetings

Meetings are held at the European Parliament’s London Office (Europe House, 32 Smith Square, SW1) and usually start at 12.30. A fee of £25 is charged to cover the cost of refreshments (special £10 rate for students and journalists under the age of 25).

18 September 2015

David McAllister MEP

Specially tasked by Chancellor Merkel to liaise informally with British MEPs and the UK government

For 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.


Winning the EU referendum

The London section of the European Movement UK is holding the first in a series of meetings on this topic on 3 September, 18:00-20:30, followed by a reception, at Europe House, 32 Smith Square, SW1.

After three MEPs, Conservative, Labour and LibDem, have spoken briefly, the meeting will invite participants’ views on the prospects for renegotiation, and on how to organise the cross-party Yes campaign, build support and frame the right messages.

If you would like to attend, please contact Nick Hopkinson, AEJ member and Chairman of the Movement’s London section, as soon as possible.


Should Ofcom become a TV censor?

An “Extremism Bill” was listed in the Queen’s Speech on the legislation to be introduced in the coming Parliament. It includes:

strengthening Ofcom’s roles so that tough measures can be taken against channels that broadcast extremist content.

A petition organised on 38 degrees says: “The government should not be allowed to dictate what we can or can’t watch on TV.”

If you wish to sign the petition, you may do so here.


Lords report on EU-UK balance of powers

Reported only by the Guardian and Observer, the House of Lords EU Committee published a report on 25 March concluding that the government had buried its review of the “competences” allocated to the EU and UK by the Lisbon Treaty.

The review resulted in 32 reports examining the allocation of powers in detail, published between July 2013 and December 2014. They were fact-based, drawing on evidence from government, Parliament, experts in the field, academe and stakeholders.

None of them concluded that the transfer of powers to the EU had been “excessive”, although both the review and the report pointed to defects.

As a fact-finding exercise designed to inform both public debate and policy, the review was unprecedented. It is attracting considerable notice elsewhere in the EU. The Lords committee says that the UK government has given the “appearance of burying the review’s excellent output”.

Relevant ministries gave no publicity to the 32 reports and no attempt was made to draw their conclusions together in a way that would make them intelligible to public or government, despite an initial promise to do this. The Lords committee dismisses the Europe Minister’s “hope that some of it eventually percolates through” as wishful thinking.


Best and worst of human rights in 2014

We recommend that those who follow the European Court of Human Rights visit the Strasbourg Observers website. It is the online presence of the Human Rights Centre at Ghent University and comments extensively on the Court's case law.

In the poll it holds each year on the Court's performance, Matúz v Hungary was voted best of the Court's judgments in 2014 and SAS v France, the worst. Matúz reinforced the protection of whistleblowers. SAS relied on the political criterion of what is conducive to living together in a democratic society to legitimise the French ban on wearing a full-face veil in public.


Metadata reveal journalists' sources

UK legislation does not protect the identity of journalists' sources from disclosure to the police and others when it is gleaned from metadata stored by the security services. Unlike the contents of any messages sent, the number or address may be disclosed without a warrant or special authority. This violates human rights law (the Goodwin case).

Please sign the petition to the Interception of Communications Commissioner, Sir Anthony May. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has filed a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights.


Liberty petition on Snowden law

Liberty, the human rights NGO, has launched a petition for action against mass state surveillance. It is based on six basic legal principles:

·        no surveillance without suspicion

·        transparent, not secret, laws

·        judicial, not political, authorisation

·        effective democratic oversight

·        the right to redress

·        a secure web for all

Please sign it!


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).

 

 

 

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. It 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.


AEJ and the Council of Europe

The AEJ takes part in the policy work of the Council of Europe (CoE) on key issues, including journalists' safety and the freedom of the Internet, as a participant in the Steering Committee on Media and Information Society. 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.

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