The European Parliament debated rule of law backsliding and media freedom issues in Greece on Wednesday, after criticism and warnings from journalists, civil society and MEPs.
EU Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders referred to several rule of law and media freedom issues Greece faces, from the way judges are appointed, to the lack of transparency in media ownership, threats and attacks against journalists, and the use of spyware, as described in the EU Commission’s annual rule of law report.
The commissioner noted that steps have been made with some legislative acts and the formation of a task force, but more needs to be done.
“Greece does not meet the conditions for EU funding; an unbiased reassessment is essential,” said Dutch MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld during the debate. “Rule of law is in steep decline and press freedom in dire straits,” she added.
The debate took place at the request of The Left in the European Parliament, while the Socialists and Democrats launched a social media campaign saying, “Greece must not turn into another Hungary.”
“Greece had elections. Greek citizens preferred New Democracy,” said New Democracy MEP Eliza Vozemberg. “They are trying to hit Greece with fake news.”
“Not everything is perfect but there is room for improvement,” said EPP representative Jeroen Lenaers. “We are shocked by the murder of [journalist Giorgos] Karaivaz, but progress has been made. There is work to be done but we recognize the progress that has been made.”
The European Parliament will vote on a resolution on the rule of law and media freedom in Greece in a plenary session on February 5-8.