EC official suggests Poland limiting media freedom

"The media is not only a sector of the economy, but also an important pillar of democracy and the rule of law. Freedom of the press and media pluralism are of key importance to democracy," the EC vice-president said. Johanna Geron/PAP/EPA

Vice-President of the European Commission Vera Jourova has suggested that an effort is being made to limit freedom of the media in Poland.

She said that there were "worrying developments" evolving regarding media freedom in Hungary, Poland, and Slovenia, as lawmakers at a plenary session in Brussels on Wednesday debated governmental attempts to silence free media in these countries.

"The media is not only a sector of the economy, but also an important pillar of democracy and the rule of law. Freedom of the press and media pluralism are of key importance to democracy," the EC vice-president said.

Referring to Poland, Jourova also mentioned protests by independent media outlets over plans by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki's government to impose an advertising tax on private media, a tax which according to them would restrict pluralism.

Former Polish Prime Minister, Law and Justice MEP Beata Szydło argued that the advertising tax would be imposed on the largest media and digital giants which do not pay taxes in Poland.

Szydło said that freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the prohibition of censorship were guaranteed by the Polish Constitution. She added that a bill on the taxation of advertising was in a very early drafting stage.

"It is based on the assumption of an advertising fee, an assumption directly derived from the EC's proposal from 2018," said the Polish MEP.