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EurActiv withdraws from Hungary, but expands in other complex countries

Date

18 Jan 2012

Sections

EU Priorities 2020

After a presence of several years, EurActiv Hungary, the EurActiv Network partner in Budapest, has halted its operations. Christophe Leclercq, EurActiv's Founder, stated: "The EurActiv Network withdraws from Hungary for economic and political reasons, related to the way the media are treated in this country. Few clients currently feel it is possible to support public debates in Budapest. And also the political climate was at times inhibitive to our normal functioning.”

Radovan Geist, Publisher of EurActiv Slovakia who was also involved in the Hungarian affiliate, said: “Our close Visegrad cooperation in the EurActiv Network was an interesting experience and it indeed brought some positive results. But in order for it to be sustainable, it needs to stand on firm local foundations, which could not be established in the current economic and political climate in Hungary.”

ACCESS TO FREE MEDIA IS A CORNERSTONE OF A TRUE DEMOCRACY

"The decision of EurActiv shows just how media are in the frontline of the struggle for democracy in Hungary," said Aidan White, media specialist, member of the Advisory Council of the Fondation EurActiv, and who led a delegation of global media freedom groups to Budapest in November 2011 (Report). "Organisations committed to media freedom are right to stand up to the political bullies in Budapest who are targeting independent media and steadily eroding democratic freedoms. This is a political tragedy for Hungary and for the European Union which is draining confidence both inside and outside the country."

Zita Gurmai, MEP from Hungary, stated: "The new media law jeopardizes Hungarian citizens' basic right to information. This is not about politics; this is about protecting fundamental rights. Therefore I strongly hope that the concern shared by the whole world and the European institutions in particular will urge Orban’s government to reconsider its policies, and protect democracy and the rule of law.”

Mr Leclercq also expressed a personal opinion on the political aspects: 'The EU reaction is too little, too late, but is still relevant. The Commission should have triggered informal but strong reactions when the unfortunate media law was still in the making. Similarly, individual Member States and political groups could have put more pressure on the Hungarian government before activating institutional threats. The EU leads projects to boost democracy and a free media in candidate and neighbouring countries. Media freedom in the Member States does matter a lot as well!'

EURACTIV, THE EUROPEAN MEDIA NETWORK, EXPANDS

The EurActiv Network left another country only once before.  Setting-up the online media in 15 countries was initially co-financed by the European Commission (eContent programme of DG INFSO). Subsequent EU projects were won, leading to 'CrossLingual sections' on a number of policies, edited in different capitals. Editorial independence and wide national readerships are also enabled by strong guidelines and diversified private sector funding (sponsoring, advertising, EurActor memberships).

Over the last 6 months, the EurActiv Network has established partnerships or expanded in traditionally more euro-sceptic and smaller countries. With new or reinforced teams in the United Kingdom, Greece, Croatia, Montenegro and Iceland, EurActiv is able to increase its EU news and policy debate coverage. In that same period, EurActiv.com also added dedicated sections on Europe’s East and the UK in Europe including articles, LinksDossiers, interviews, opinion and blog posts.

Media contacts:

Georgi Gotev, Senior Editor, EurActiv.com, +32(0)2.788.36.76, georgi.gotev@euractiv.com

Christophe Leclercq, Publisher, EurActiv.com, Tel. +32(0)2.226.58.13, publisher@euractiv.com

Dominique Ostyn, Senior Manager Communications & New Media, Tel: + 32(0)2.788.36.88, communication@euractiv.com

Note to the editor:  

www.EurActiv.com is the independent online media network dedicated to EU policy, counting 609,000 monthly unique visitors together with the Web 2.0 platform Blogactiv.eu. Set up in 1999, the network is an important working instrument for actors (institutions, industry federations, NGOs, think tanks, the press and others) involved in defining or influencing EU policies. The EurActiv Network publishes EU policy news and information in 15 languages from offices in the capitals of 15 European countries: Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, United Kingdom and Turkey. The Network's national policy portals are accessible here www.euractiv.com/en/Fixed/about/crosslingual.htm

In order to provide free services and ensure independence, EurActiv's services are financed from four sources: corporate sponsoring, EurActor membership, online advertising and EU projects. General sponsors of www.EurActiv.com are: GE Energy, the Nickel Institute, Enel, First Solar, People First Foundation, United Technologies and VISA Europe. Section sponsors of www.EurActiv.com are: ABInBev, ArcelorMittal, Boeing, Camfil, Coca-Cola, Dow, Euro-ciett, General Electric, Honeywell, Microsoft, MSD, Trans Adriatic Pipeline, Unilever and Yara. EurActiv also has 60 “content partners” (NGOs & think tanks) as well as ca. 500 “contributors”, providing their policy positions for free publication, based on EurActiv's editorial discretion.

EurActiv content extracts can be re-used for free by other media, subject to clear attribution, and a copy sent to content@euractiv.com. Input welcome: at editor@euractiv.com. Opinion / Editorial pieces can be sent to opinion@euractiv.com.

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