“If the EU is to maintain its stellar performance on freedom of expression, it should insist that candidate countries specifically demonstrate adherence to basic standards regarding press freedom laws and practices”, argues Freedom House’s Jennifer Dunham. Seven of the eight candidate or potential candidate states considered have press freedom ratings substantially below the EU average, with Turkey and Macedonia in particular experiencing sharp declines in recent years.
The European Union has consistently been among the best-performing regions in Freedom House’s annual Freedom of the Press report, which assesses the condition of media freedom around the world. However, the EU’s average score in the report has dropped over the past five years, a result of sharp declines in Hungary and Greece and more modest deterioration in the United Kingdom and Spain.
The EU’s score for the report covering 2013 was also pulled down by the inclusion of Croatia, the bloc’s newest member. Croatia’s score (40) was far below the EU average (23.29) on Freedom of the Press’s 100-point scale, with 0 representing the best possible conditions and 100 the worst. Similarly, as shown in the Chart below, seven of the eight EU candidate or potential candidate countries – Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Turkey – score significantly below the EU average (Iceland, with a score of 12, is the exception).
Chart: Press Freedom Score in aspiring EU member states (2009-13)