The Luxembourger, Mr Jean-Claude Juncker, has finally taken the job as the European Commission chief. Mr Juncker’s appointment as the social conservative candidate marks a turning point since the last Commission led by the centre-right party leader Mr. José Manuel Barroso. The European Union seems to have rekindled its social model.
Allied with the Socialists and Liberals, Mr. Junker has made many promises. He has declared his intention to be “a President of social dialogue”. He has talked about the principle that “the economy has to serve the people and not the other way round”.
The EFJ welcomes Mr Juncker’s plan to appoint a Commissioner in charge of the application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. While we are very enthusiastic about this appointment and are impatient for it to be announced, we are disappointed that no single Commissioner is in charge of media policy.
More disappointingly, the media industry which has suffered from the crisis, seems to be omitted from Mr Juncker’s list of priority sectors that will benefit from the public and private investment scheme worth 300 billion euros.
Mr Juncker has conveyed his ambition to create a large “connected digital single market.” He has stated that we should “have the courage to break down national barriers in the regulation of telecommunications, copyright and data protection”. However, the President has not mentioned a single word about how to guarantee editorial independence and pluralism in media and ensure that creators will be rewarded. The EFJ cannot accept a digital single market that will trespass independent media and the authors’ rights of journalists.
Mr Juncker is critical about the mass surveillance operated by the United States and he called for greater transparency in the European institutions, including the creation of a mandatory register for lobbyists. This is one of the few concrete proposals in our Manifesto that has been endorsed by him. This is a surprising move considering that only a few of his party members endorsed our Manifesto.
Now we have heard Mr Juncker’s promises. We are yet to hear his vision for the media which is the foundation of Europe’s democracy. Mr Juncker, please be assured that we will be reminding this mission throughout your tenure as the Commission President.
Ricardo Gutierrez EFJ General Secretary
EFJ Co-founder Antonio Velluto
(26.06.2014) The EFJ paid tribute to its co-founder, Mr. Antonio Velluto, who passed away on Tuesday, 24 June, in Milan at the age of 81. During the EFJ Steering Committee meeting in Rome, members observed a minute of silence in memory of Mr Velluto.
EFJ Slams UK for Pushing through Data Retention Law
(16.7.2014) The EFJ criticised the UK government’s hasty move to rush through a controversial data retention law that will allow the government to have greater control of personal data of citizens and journalists. The EFJ is backing the call by its affiliate in the UK, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), which is demanding that the government amends the existing law to make exemptions for journalism. The EFJ has written to the EU Commissioner responsible for Home Affairs, Ms Cecilia Malmström, asking the Commission to clarify the validity of the European law on data retention (Directive 2006/24/EC). (read more)
Media Casualties in Ukraine Crisis
The crisis in Ukraine has claimed another media casualty. Anatoly Klyan, a 68-year old cameraman, was killed while on assignment in eastern Ukraine, Donetsk. In May, Italian photojournalist, Andrea Rocchelli, and Russian interpreter, Andrey Mironov, died tragically in Ukraine while reporting on the conflict. Meanwhile, a Ukrainian journalist, Yevgeny Agarkov, was arrested by Russian authorities on 24 July. Agarkov was convicted of “working illegally as a journalist” and sentenced to expulsion from Russia and a five-year ban on re-entering the country. He was also ordered to pay a fine of 2,000 roubles (40 euros).(read more)
New Agreement to Cover Online and Freelance Journalists
(25.6.2014) The EFJ affiliate in Italy, FNSI, renewed the collective agreement with publishers after a period of intensive negotiation. The agreement will cover, for the first time, online and freelance journalists, setting the minimum standards on their pay conditions.
According to the new agreement, freelance journalists working for daily newspapers can receive up to €250 for 12 news articles. In a year, they can receive €3000 for 144 articles. However, some journalists consider that the rate is not high enough.
The agreement will also include a new scheme supported by the Italian government who will inject 120 million euros to encourage youth employment in the media sector. Trainees now can legitimately claim payment for their work compared to previous conditions where they mostly work for free.
Donate for Journalists Affected by Floods
Over 50 journalists in Serbia were affected by the worst floods in 120 years. The EFJ and its affiliate in Serbia (IJAS-NUNS), have called on affiliates to express solidarity and donate money to help journalists recover basic living equipment (i.e. beds, tables, stoves, etc.). IJAS-NUNS thanked EFJ affliates from Greece and Cyprus, who have responded the call. If you want to donate, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Working Conditions of Journalists Remains Precarious
(22.07.2014) With the financial support of Swedish based labour organisation LOTCO, the EFJ affiliate, the Journalists Union of Serbia (SINOS), organised a workshop called “media reform and protection of the journalists’ profession in Belgrade.
“Journalists have been the main victims of the continuing transformation period in Serbia,” said Dragana Cabarakapa, President of SINOS. She gave examples of journalists working for private media who had not been allowed to participate in this workshop. In private local and regional media in particular, journalists hardly have a written contract; they are asked to cover their medical insurance and bring their own equipment to work; many of them have not even been paid for months.
The EFJ has written to the Prime Minister of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, asking for improved consultation rights and a revision of the draft labour law. However, the government adopted the draft labour law, which according to legal labour experts and unions is worse than the existing one, giving workers less protection and unions less rights.
Meanwhile, the government adopted three media laws on 26 July, which will be discussed this week in the parliament. The EFJ affiliates, NUN, UNS and SINOS criticised that the process has not been transparent and the consultation with the professional orgnaisations was too limited.(read more) (Photo: Ana Petronijević Miškov)
Ales Bialiatski Released after 3-year Imprisonment
(21.6.2014) Ales Bialiatski, the prominent Belarusian journalist and human rights activist, was finally released after enduring a long period of imprisonment. The EFJ welcomed his release but condemned the government for the miscarriage of justice. (read more)
6 – 7 Ocotber, Skopje
Building Strong Journalists’ Unions
6 – 7 Ocotber, Skopje
The EFJ affiliates in Macedonia (ZNM and SSNM) will co-organise a regional conference in Skopje with the EFJ and IFJ in order to strengthen the role of journalists’ unions and associations in Eastern European countries to defend the professional rights of journalists. EFJ affiliates in the region will be invited to the meeting to discuss issues on collective agreements, trade union capacity building and legal instruments to better defend the rights of journalists. The conference is being supported financially by the German foundation, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES). For more information, please contact Mehmet Koksal.
TGS Reaches Second Collective Agreement at BirGün
(14.7.2014) The EFJ congratulated the Journalists Union of Turkey (TGS) on signing a second new collective agreement for journalists at the newspaper BirGün.
According to the new agreement, staff will receive an annual salary increase of 12% (to counter the high inflation rate – 9.66% in 2014), holiday for female journalists on the International Women’s Day on 8 March, 18 weeks paid maternity leave, 1-day paid leave per month on request for female workers during their mensturation, holiday for all journalists willing to participate to the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia on 17 May, child allowance of 500 TRY (equivalent to 175 EUR), marriage or partnership allowance of 500 TRY bonus and protection against harassment at workplace. A new workers’ committee will also be elected to ensure the editorial independence of the paper. (read more)
European Court Slams Turkey on Pre-trial Detention of Journalists
(8.7.2014) The EFJ welcomed the European Court of Human Rights’ (ECHR) preliminary decision over the detention of two investigative journalists by the Turkish authorities without prior trial for over a year. The Court says the preliminary findings show that there is a breach of human rights of two investigative journalists, investigative journalists, Nedim Sener and Ahmet Şık.(read more)
The EFJ, together with the Labour Rights Expert Group, have launched a “Collective Toolbox” with the aim of collecting and sharing information among affiliates on the latest developments in labour rights, best practice examples in collective bargaining and new initiatives to strengthen rights of journalists.
The EFJ will send monthly update and short quiz to affiliates. The information collected will be updated regularly on a dedicated page “Collective Toolbox” on the EFJ website, the EFJ Labour Right Page as well as the monthly newsletter EFJ Focus.
Contact: Yuk Lan Wong
Apply Now! Media Exchanges for Professionals
(11.6.2014) Media professionals, trainers or union officers can now apply for an exchange programme to improve their craft and diversity inclusiveness in the media. The media exchanges represent a unique opportunity to share professional practices in the areas of media production, media and journalism training and journalism practice. Apply now!
Study Launched to Probe Remuneration for Authors
(16.7.2014) A study will be launched imminently by the European Commission to investigate the level of payment received by authors and the impact of certain contractual terms and conditions on their remuneration. The study will analyse existing legislation and collect data on the remuneration of authors for the use of their works, including the mechanisms and terms of contracts that have an impact on their remuneration and their bargaining position.
The EFJ welcomed the study. “We have long been demanding for such a study to be carried out and for further actions to be taken by EU policy-makers to address the issue of unfair contractual practices in the journalism and cultural sector,” said Ricardo Gutierrez, EFJ General Secretary. “We are glad that the Commission is finally taking action now.” (read more)
Google Sued over Use of News Snippets
(14.7.2014) The dispute over the display of news snippets online between Google and the German collective management organisation representing major media and publishing companies, VG Media, has been finally brought to court.
VG Media has filed an official lawsuit against Google after the two parties failed to reach an agreement over the use of news snippets.
VG Media argued that the display of news snippets by Google has violated the German copyright law (section 87f, 87g and 87h concerning the neighbouring rights of press publishers) and as a result of it, VG Media shall receive a “reasonable compensation” for such uses.
11.00 CET, Thursday, 12 September If you are interested in entrepreneurial journalism, please join us, along with freelance and entrepreneurial journalist expert, Tim Dawson, for a webinar to discuss ways to finance freelance work and new funding models. The webinar is organised by the EFJ and its Freelance Expert Group in cooperation with the Deutscher Journalisten-Verband. If you want to join us, register now!Contact: Renate Schroeder
Webinar on entrepreneurial journalism, BrusselsSteering Committee meeting, BrusselsLabour Rights Expert Group meeting, Brussels