European nations have seen press freedom deteriorate, according to the annual Reporters Without Borders report which was released on World Press Freedom Day.
Greece is the lowest-ranked EU country for press freedom, according to the annual World Press Freedom Index and Romania also saw a decline in its ranking.
Greece replaced Bulgaria as the worst-performing EU nation and now ranks 108th — down from 70th in last year’s index — on a list of 180 countries, compiled by Reporters Without Borders.
Lack of transparency
Romania fell by eight places to 56 in the ranking from 48. “Romania can boast of a diverse, relatively pluralistic media landscape that produces hard-hitting public interest investigations. Pressure from owners, lack of transparency in financing or market difficulties, however, hamper the reliability of the information,” the report says.
Italy was down 17 spots in comparison with last year’s ranking, Slovenia down 18 spots), Austria down 14, and Belgium (down 12).
The international watchdog organization says the information chaos is a result of “a globalized and unregulated online information space that encourages fake news and propaganda”.
The situation also declined significantly in several countries including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The worst offenders against press freedom are non-EU countries– China, Belarus, Russia, Iran, Myanmar and North Korea.
Greece is among a list of countries including Slovenia, Poland and Hungary that have intensified draconian laws against journalists, the report says.
Athens passed a new law last year that makes it an offense for citizens to spread “false information” and is punishable by up to five years in jail.
The report also notes that those responsible for the murder of journalists Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta and Ján Kuciak in Slovakia have yet to be convicted. In Greece, authorities have failed to solve the murder of Greek crime reporter Giorgos Karaivaz, who assassinated outside his Athens home in April 2021.
The World Press Freedom index classifies 180 countries according to the level of freedom available to journalists, based on an evaluation of pluralism, independence of the media and safety of journalists in each of the countries.