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Leveson: EU wants power to sack journalistsA European Union report has urged tight press regulation and demanded that Brussels officials are given control of national media supervisors with new powers to enforce fines or the sacking of journalists.
The EU report praises Lord Justice Leveson’s proposals Photo: Julian Simmonds
By Bruno Waterfield, Brussels
22 Jan 2013
The “high level” recommendations that will be used to draft future EU legislation also attack David Cameron for failing to automatically implement proposals by the Lord Justice Leveson inquiry for a state regulation of British press.
A "high level" EU panel, that includes Latvia’s former president and a former German justice minister, was ordered by Neelie Kroes, European Commission vice-president, last year to report on "media freedom and pluralism". It has concluded that it is time to introduce new rules to rein in the press.
“All EU countries should have independent media councils,” the report concluded.
“Media councils should have real enforcement powers, such as the imposition of fines, orders for printed or broadcast apologies, or removal of journalistic status.”
As well as setting up state regulators with draconian powers, the panel also recommended that the European Commission be placed in overall control in order to ensure that the new watchdogs do not breach EU laws.
“The national media councils should follow a set of European-wide standards and be monitored by the Commission to ensure that they comply with European values,” the report said.
The EU report praises Lord Justice Leveson’s controversial proposals and attacks politicians, including the Prime Minister, that have questioned state regulation of newspapers.
“The gross abuses revealed in the Leveson enquiry have led its author to propose much more stringent institutional supervision, where the media would be much more closely monitored,” the report said.
“That judge Leveson’s recommendations should have been rejected out of hand by some politicians in high office, is not very reassuring.”
Mrs Kroes last night hailed the report’s “concrete ideas for action” as providing “exactly what I was looking for”.
“Ensuring the independence of regulators across the member states and their cooperation will be high on my agenda,” she said.
“The recommendations in this report are an important basis for the tough and principled discussion we urgently need in the EU.”
The report’s recommendations have sparked anger in Britain, a country that is often criticised by European officials for its media coverage of EU issues
A spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said: "We have no intention of allowing Europe to regulate the British press. We have been clear that, as set out in the Leveson report, we expect the British press industry to implement tough, independent, self-regulation."
Douglas Carswell, the Conservative MP for Clacton, attacked the report for making an “extraordinary, and deeply disturbing proposal”.
“Having EU officials overseeing our free press - and monitoring newspapers to ensure they comply with "European values" - would be quite simply intolerable,” he said.
“This is the sort of mind-set that I would expect to find in Iran, not the West. This kooky idea tells us little about the future of press regulation. It does suggest that the European project is ultimately incompatible with the notion of a free society.”
Nigel Farage, the leader of Ukip, compared the proposals to “Orwell's 1984”. “This is a flagrant attack on press freedom. To hear that unelected bureaucrats in Brussels want the power to fine and suspend journalists is just outrageous,” he said.