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EU Accused of Threatening Press Controls to Curb ‘Bad Nationalism’ and Anti-Soros, Pro-Brexit Narratives

THIERRY CHARLIER/AFP/Getty Images
THIERRY CHARLIER/AFP/Getty Images

The European Union’s Commissioner for Justice and Gender Equality has complained “the bad version of nationalism” is rising and hinted at media regulation to curb the problem, according to POLITICO.

Věra Jourová, 54, claimed the “bad version of nationalism… is on the rise” along with “racial abuse and discrimination” and “hate online” in a speech in Vienna reported by the online outlet.

“Media can build the culture of dialogue or sow divisions, spread disinformation and encourage exclusion,” the eurocrat added, alleging that “The Brexit debate is the best example” of the latter.

“[D]o you remember the first page of a popular British daily calling the judges the ‘enemy of the people’?” she raged, referring to a Daily Mail article slamming senior justices who ruled MPs could block Brexit in late 2016.

“Or just last week, the EU leaders were called ‘Dirty Rats’ on another first page,” she added, referring to a more recent Sun article taking the bloc’s leadership to task for their shabby treatment of the British prime minister at a Salzburg summit.

“Almost daily we could find examples of stories that are spiced up to point out the enemy; to paint the picture black and white… I would advocate for a European approach to media based on quality and smart regulation, if needed,” the eurocrat warned.

The right-leaning tabloid offered a characteristically scathing reply to the EU Commissioner in a leader column responding to the speech, beginning: “Hands up if you know who Vera Jourova is. No, us neither.”

The newspaper described the proposed legislation as an attempt at “punishment for reporting the EU’s failings”.

“This isn’t much of a surprise. This no-mark’s Wikipedia page reveals that she’s enjoyed a lifelong ride on the Brussels gravy train,” the writer added.

A spokesman for the EU Commission told the Press Gazette that it was not planning any new legislation and that she had raised the issue of “smart regulation” before.

Jourová was also directly critical of the Hungarian government for its “anti-Soros campaign” — a reference to the 88-year-old pro-open borders billionaire George Soros — and backed the plutocrat’s fight for “open society”.

She also offered what appeared to an indirect attack on U.S. leader Donald Trump with a reference to “Calling media ‘the enemies of the people'”, which she likened to something “from the 1930s”.

The eurocrat was more positive about the EU’s success in achieving “a significant curb” to “illegal hate speech online”, however — boasting of “the implementation of the Code of Conduct agreed with IT companies two years ago” and the fact that “IT companies are now removing on average 70 percent of content notified to them and in more than 80 percent of the cases they do it in less than 24 hours.”

The Justice Commissioner’s chief concerns seemed to be “discrimination”, “hate”, “racism”, “xenophobia” and so on — Islamic extremism and terrorism were not mentioned.

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