European Commission Vice-President Margrethe Vestager is investigating the use of state aid to undermine media pluralism in Hungary.
This comes in response to calls for an EU response to alleged abuses of press freedom in Hungary.
In a letter to Roger Casale, Secretary General of New Europeans, Vestager says:
“Contacts with the Hungarian government are ongoing and I am investigating both complaints with utmost care.”
Vestager also acknowledged the wider challenge posed by perceived threats to democracy in Hungary.
The Hungarian government is alleged to have spent significant amounts of public funds on politically motivated advertisement campaigns through selected media outlets, unfairly starving independent media channels of revenue.
New Europeans wrote to Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestger, who is also a VIce-President of the European Commission, in September.
The letter which was signed by Povl Christian Henningsen, Chair of New Europeans Aisbl, Eszter Nagy, a pro-EU activist in Budapest and Roger Casale, Founder and Secretary General called on the Commissioner:
"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."
Commenting on the Commissioner's response Eszter Nagy said:
“While the Commission looks at these complaints, [Hungarian PM] Viktor Orbán is simply dismantling media freedom further. By failing to take swift action, Orban will just be encouraged to eliminate the little that still remains of independent media in Hungary.”
Further action is planned and New Europeans will make a statement on this website on Friday, 6 November about the next steps in our campaign.
In the media:
Martin Banks, Parliament Magazine, 26 October, 2020
Eszter Nagy and Roger Casale, Voxeurope, 28 July, 2020
International Press Institute, 2 September, 2020