The naïveté of Reporters Without Borders with respect to the EU is a little dated, especially with regards to expecting it to set civil liberties examples. (They don't know what the EU is yet, obviously.)
EUobserverPress freedom in several European countries has eroded dramatically in the past year, particularly in Slovakia, Italy and Bulgaria, according to an annual index released on Tuesday (20 October) by NGO Reporters Without Borders. ...
"The impact of organised crime and the targeting of journalists account for the falls suffered by both Bulgaria and Italy, which got the worst ranking of the EU's six original founding members," notes the report.
"Silvio Berlusconi's harassment of the media, mafia violence against journalists who expose its activity and a bill that would drastically curb the media's ability to publish official phone tap transcripts explain why Italy fell for the second year running."
Journalists are still physically threatened in Italy and Spain, but also in EU candidate country Croatia, where the owner and marketing director of the weekly Nacional were killed by a bomb on 23 October 2008.
France fell eight points because of judicial investigations, arrests of journalists, raids on media and meddling by prominent politicians, including President Nicolas Sarkozy.
"It is disturbing to see European democracies such as France, Italy and Slovakia fall steadily in the rankings year after year," Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-François Julliard said. "Europe should be setting an example as regards civil liberties. How can you condemn human rights violations abroad if you do not behave irreproachably at home?" ...