The European Parliament held a debate in Strasbourg in response to a submission claiming that press and media freedom was seriously endangered in several EU states.
”After the Czech Republic and Italy, Hungary, Estonia and Romania were planning amendments that would seriously restrict the freedom of information and the media and give authority to the government to supervise media content, censor criticism and increase government control over the media,” the submission said.
”The European Commission is fully dedicated to protecting basic freedoms,” Kroes said. “However, the EU execution body currently sees no reason to intervene.”
Hungarian MEP of the Socialist Party Csaba Tabajdi said the European Commission would not prefer not to get involved in the issue at present, but it would have to face it sooner or later.
”Party stalwarts should not be allowed to be appointed to head the public media,” Tabajdi said.
Viktor Orban, the prime minister, recently appointed an official allied to his Fidesz party to head the media and telecommunications supervisory authority for a period of nine years.
MEP Ildiko Gall Pelcz, of the governing Fidesz party, expressed satisfaction with the outcome, saying that the European Commission had a balanced view regarding the freedom of speech and press in Hungary.
Gall Pelcz said the new media law would prevent wasteful spending by the state, resolve structural issues, make the media system more transparent, reduce the number of party delegates to one-fifth and make the national media and news authorities accountable by parliament. Further it declared the freedom of the press, protected the independence of journalists and ensured that sources used by investigative journalists would keep their anonymity.
She added that a parliamentary debate on the final bills of the law package would start next week.