Auditors have refused to sign off on EU accounts for 18 years in a row, and EU officials have been sacked for exposing corruption and fraud within the vast bureaucracy.
The European Union (EU) is pouring millions of pounds into organizations that advocate state control of the press. For many, the funding – uncovered recently by Telegraph journalist Andrew Gilligan – is yet further evidence of the EU’s increasingly Orwellian, authoritarian nature. The Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky has for years referred to the organization as the EUSSR.
One recipient of European taxpayers’ money, Mediadem, for example, has been given 2.3 million pounds. Mediadem describes its mission as working to “reclaim a free and independent media.” Addressing the topical issue of how to restructure the system of redress for those wrongfully accused or defamed by newspapers, Mediadem recommends the “imposition of sanctions beyond an apology or correction” and the “co-ordination of the journalistic profession at the European level.”
Mediadem’s representative, Dr Craufurd Smith, has written, “Liberal conceptions of media freedom focus on editorial freedom for government interference…. [however] states may also be required to take positive measures to curtail the influence of powerful economic or political groups…. this entails that neither the media, nor those individuals who own or work for the media, enjoy an absolute right to freedom of expression.”
This is not the first time the EU has sought to control freedom of expression. In 2001, the European Court of Justice ruled that the EU was allowed to suppress political criticism of its institutions and of leading figures. The court ruled that the EU was lawfully allowed to punish individuals who “damaged the institution’s image and reputation.”
The European Court of Justice is the EU’s highest court. Its advocate general, Damaso Ruiz-Jarabo Colomer, had previously argued that a book criticizing EU financial policy was akin to extreme blasphemy, and thus not protected by free speech laws.
The attack against freedom of expression has extended to economic information. In 2011, an EU official proposed a ban on the issuing of sovereign credit ratings for countries in bailout talks. Michel Barnier, a European internal market commissioner, said, “I think it’s legitimate to have a special treatment when a country is in negotiation or is covered by an international solidarity program with the IMF or a European solidarity”.
In the wake of the Leveson Report, a British parliamentary inquiry into the “ethics of the Press,” an EU report called for tighter press regulation and demanded that the EU should be given new powers to enforce fines or the sacking of journalists against errant media outlets.
Much of the EU’s keenness to intervene comes from its concern at the negative coverage it receives in the British press. When the EU is not proposing to regulate the press, it is spending vast sums on pro-EU advertising. In 2012, the EU spent Â£682 million of British …read more