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Belgium ‘unfit to house EU Institutions’

Published on 05/04/2004

5 April 2004

BRUSSELS – The head of one of Europe’s biggest journalists’ rights organisations has said Belgium’s poor record on press freedom means it should not be the home to the EU’s main institutions.

Aiden White, who heads the Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), said Belgium’s poor legal protection for journalists meant it was “quite inappropriate” that Brussels should be the home to the European Union’s three most important institutions – The Council of Ministers, The European Commission and the European Parliament.

According to the IFJ, there have been more attacks on journalistic freedom in Belgium in recent years that in any other western European country.

The most recent example of Belgium’s cavalier attitude to press freedom came last month when the police raided the offices of German investigative journalist Hans Martin Tillack, arrested him and confiscated many of his confidential notes.

Tillack, who had been investigating allegations of EU fraud, was later released without charge but his notes were not returned immediately.

Commenting on such treatment during a conference on in Brussels last Friday, White said, “It seems to me that for Belgium to be one of the worst countries in terms of legal protection at national level for protection of sources makes it quite inappropriate to be the centre of the European Union political institutions which are responsible for the legal and economic administration of a region of 25 countries.”

The IFJ has 500,000 members in over 100 countries.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Belgian news