EU Still Has ‘Grave Concerns’ on Hungary Media Laws, Kroes Says

The European Union pushed Hungary to give “positive signals” that the government is moving to address concerns that the nation’s media law undermines pluralism in the industry.

“The Hungarian government needs to do more and act quickly to reassure” the EU, Neelie Kroes, the 27-nation bloc’s commissioner for digital affairs, told a European Parliament committee today in Brussels. “I continue to have grave concerns about the current situation,” she said, adding that Hungary must “show that it is serious about protecting freedom of expression and media pluralism.”

The media law, which created a regulator led by ruling-party appointees, fails to meet press-freedom commitments even after changes demanded by the EU last year, according to the Vienna-based Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

“Private investors and international institutions need to know they have full access to independent media analysis,” Kroes said. “While there is legally member-state discretion in this area, I am worried when that discretion is exercised to the detriment of media pluralism.”

Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister Tibor Navracsics, who met with Kroes in Brussels before appearing at the same parliamentary panel, said his nation “wants to engage in cooperation” with the EU over the issue. “The Hungarian government has every interest in its legislation and constitution being in line with” EU norms, he said.

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