- EU must intervene to protect media freedom in Hungary and Poland

Rafto Laureate and Ombudsman for Human Rights Adam Bodnar and Professor of law and Commissioner of the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights John Morijn, call on the EU to intervene and stop the government's takeover of Polska Press.

This takeover affects 20 of Poland’s 24 regional newspapers, and almost 120 local weeklies, and is likely to undermine fair elections in Poland, a requirement for EU membership.

“Independent national media is hanging by a thread in Poland and Hungary. The EU should immediately use the tools it already has to protect it”, Bodnar and Morijn writes in an opinion piece in Politico (18/5 2021)

What has happened?

8 April 2021 the Regional C,ourt in Warsaw agreed with an appeal presented by Adam Bodnar against the decision to allow PKN Orlen to complete the purchase, and issued an interim injunction suspending the acquisition of Polska Press.

PKN Orlen however refuses to submit to the injunction. “The decision means nothing really. Polska Press works normally. We exercise our rights from shares, we have the opinions of international law firms and financial advisors in this regard. In general, the right to take over, which has generally already been exercised, cannot be limited” states the President of PKN Orlen.


Reactions

European civil society organizations have formed Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) cooperation, which raised the alarm 29 April. Despite promises that no personnel would be fired, the new owners have dismissed three editors, and replaced them with persons close to the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party.

The Norwegian Oil fund's role

Norges Bank Investment Management NBIM (the Norwegian Sovereign oil fund) has a minor stake in PKN Orlen. The Rafto Foundation encourages the NBIM to raise questions at the General Meeting 27 May 2021 about the lack of respect for the Polish Court demonstrated by the company, and the possibly adverse effect on Polish democracy stemming from its acquisition of Polska Press.

Contact

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Iver Ørstavik

The Rafto Foundation, Senior Advisor
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Phone:47096755
E-mail:iver.orstavik@rafto.no

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