Dear Ms Vestager,
We are writing to you as representatives of the civil rights movement New Europeans based in Brussels.
We draw your attention to the issue of state aid to the media sector in Hungary and call on you to intervene.
On 2 September, you received a letter from a coalition of 16 on freedom of the press, freedom of expression and journalists' organizations. You were invited to respond to complaints that the Hungarian government has violated EU state aid rules to undermine media pluralism.
This follows growing concern over the mass migration of INDEX journalists in July, including an op-ed in Voxeurop on 28 July by the undersigned Roger Casale and Eszter Nagy of New Europeans. The main point: No impunity for abuse of press freedom in Hungary
We would like to make three points:
1) The Commission needs to use its existing tools and rules to counter market distortions such as those in Hungary. They undermine freedom of the press and they also represent a breach of competition rules. You are the Competition Commissioner and we would like to know when and how you propose to investigate this.
2) There seems to be a huge discrepancy between the level of transparency and accountability at national level in the Nordic states, and how EU contributions are used in, for example, Hungary.
As Competition Commissioner, how can this be justified, and if it cannot be justified, then what do you propose to do about it?
3) There is a more fundamental issue at stake, namely the future of the European Union as a secure space for human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
The mechanism of rule of law conditions has not yet been clarified. We encourage you to use the tools at your disposal as Competition Commissioner to ensure that EU funds are not used illegally to undermine press freedom in Hungary. We are part of the European family and must ensure that all family members behave properly.
We write this as an open letter and share it with the Danish, European and international media. The subject is clearly of great international interest.
We very much hope that by writing to you we are writing a story that has a happy ending.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Secretary General, New Europeans
New Europeans Budapest and Secretary General, Union of European Federalists Hungary
Member of the Board of New Europeans
Eszter Nagy and Roger Casale, Voxeurop, 28/07/20
International Press Institute, 02/09/20
Schwarzkopf Foundation Europe Award 2019