Europe’s week: SOTU takes centre stage and media freedom legislation proposed

European Fee President Ursula von der Leyen’s annual State of the European Union tackle dominated the week.

The battle in Ukraine, anti-Russian sanctions and the financial fallout from Russia’s aggression took centre stage.

The EU Fee president proposed emergency measures to deal with the power disaster, together with a windfall tax on some power corporations and binding targets to cut back consumption.

She made clear that the escalating power battle with Russia would check European resolve by means of the months forward.

“This isn’t solely a battle unleashed by Russia towards Ukraine. That is additionally a battle on our power. It`s a battle on our financial system. It`s a battle on our values. It’s a battle on our future. It’s about autocracy towards democracy,” von der Leyen mentioned.

“And I stand right here with a conviction that with the mandatory braveness and with the mandatory solidarity, Putin will fail, and Ukraine and Europe will prevail.”

If there was any additional proof that the EU and Ukraine have closed ranks, it was the presence of Ukraine’s first woman, Olena Yelenska.

She obtained a hero’s welcome, and lawmakers greeted her with a standing ovation.

For her husband, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who visited not too long ago liberated areas in northeastern Ukraine, his spouse’s presence in Strasbourg was a harbinger of even nearer relations sooner or later.

“For the primary time within the historical past of the European Union, a state from exterior the EU was truly represented at a particular session of the European Parliament in the course of the annual State of the EU Report — that is our state. To date, from exterior the EU. We’re working for full membership — politically, legally, symbolically.”

The European Fee additionally proposed a brand new legislation that will prohibit using spyware and adware towards journalists and state interference in editorial selections.

The laws goals to strengthen press freedom, guarantee a plurality of voices and improve transparency on media possession and conflicts of pursuits.

It comes at a time of reducing belief in media and growing threats towards information shops and professionals throughout the continent.

A number of EU international locations are below scrutiny over perceived threats to press freedom. 

The Greek authorities has admitted to tapping the telephone of an investigative journalist, Slovenia has been condemned for slashing funds to the nationwide information company, and Hungary has been criticised for permitting extreme media focus within the arms of some house owners.

The final decade has additionally seen a string of murders of investigative journalists, resembling Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta, Ján Kuciak in Slovakia, Giorgos Karaivaz in Greece and Peter de Vries within the Netherlands

“That is the laws for the occasions we dwell in – not the occasions we wish to dwell in,” mentioned Věra Jourová, the Fee’s Vice-President for Values and Transparency, whereas unveiling the draft legislation.

“For some, it will likely be an excessive amount of. For others, it will likely be too little,” Jourová mentioned.

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