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WHAT’S NEW(S) – 02/07/2021

Écrit par sur 2 juillet 2021

European values

Outrage in Europe the past weeks after Hungary passed its new anti-LGBTQ legislation, banning portrayals of homosexuality or of transgender people in content exposed to minors. The fierce reactions of EU leaders revealed, once again, the division over the common EU values. How did journalists in different EU countries report on this dividing issue?

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Outrage in Europe the past weeks after Hungary passed its new anti-LGBTQ legislation, banning portrayals of homosexuality or of transgender people in content exposed to minors. The fierce reactions of EU leaders revealed, once again, the division over the common EU values.

How did journalists in different EU countries report on this dividing issue?

Well, “The EU is mobilised but divided over Hungary’s homophobic laws” headlined Le Monde last Thursday, and the political division over how the new law should be perceived was also reflected in the press. Spanish newspaper El País argued that even if the European Parliament officially declared the EU territory as a LGBTIQ Freedom Zone, this is not the reality in countries such as Hungary and Poland, suggesting the EU should do more to prevent the introduction of such laws on the European territory. In Germany, contradicting opinions reflected in the press, with chief editor of the Welt arguing that that the EU cannot expect from Hungary to discard its national character just after joining the EU, and Süddeutsche Zeitung journalist Matthias Kolb stating that the EU finally speaks clear language to the country. The Dutch press was backing up the fierce words of outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who argued that “If Hungary does not change its policies, there should be no place for the country in the EU.” In Belgium, where Prime Minister De Croo labelled the new law as “insane”, newspaper De Standaard refused to publish an advertisement sponsored by Victor Orbán himself, and instead published a full-page ad with the text “Dear Victor Orbán, laws should never distinguish love from love.” Polish conservative’s weekly Sieci interviewed Polish education minister Czarnek, who praised the new regulations, and said they should be copied on Polish soil. 

And how was the passing of the law and the international criticism perceived by the press in Hungary itself?

In right-wing newspaper Magyar Hírlap, Mariann Öry heavily criticised Munich’s plans to lighten the stadium in the rainbow colours, and explained it as a clear case of “German political and cultural imperialism.” She also argued that while the country easily is shaming other EU members for a lack of freedom of expression and openness, Germans themselves too feel restricted to state their opinion, citing a survey mentioned by Victor Orbán, that revealed that only 45% of Germans feel free to express their opinion. In the same line, pro-government newspaper Magyar Nemzet argues that Orbán is right in stating that Hungarians have been disappointed by the EU. They should defend national sovereignty grounded in Christian heritage and fight against the “climate and gender madness” it believes. English speaking newspaper Hungary Today underlined the words of foreign minister Szijjártó, who argued that Hungary and Poland were being attacked for going against the liberal mainstream; and also stressed the new law serves to protect children and their parents.

But then moving on to other issues that made the headlines in Europe this week, starting with the accusations of fraud in Germany ahead of the elections?

Indeed, only a few months ago, it looked like candidate of the Greens Annalena Baerbock was heading to a victory in the German elections organised end September this year, with the Green party overtaking CDU in the polls. The beginning of this month however, the tide was turning for the German Greens. A series of political blunders – including errors on her CV and the failing to declare extra payments to the parliament – let the party plummet in opinion polls, described Deutsche Welle. This week, another scandal made the media: Baerbock is accused of copying passages from other sources in her book, including sentences from Der Spiegel and Tagesspiegel. “First booking problems, now book problems” concluded Der Spiegel. Baerbock denied the accusations, accusing her political opponents of dirty campaigning. 

And how about the UK, with the looming deadline for EU citizens to apply to remain in the UK?

According to the BBC, between August 2018 and March 2021, 5.42 million people applied to settle in the UK. However, there are concerns that not everyone knows they need to apply before July 1st to stay as legal residents. The situation has created stress and frustration among EU nationals in the UK to the extent that the helpline is often unable to accept calls and many of the applicants fear that they may find themselves in a legal limbo, describe Lisa O’Carroll and Amelia Gentleman in the Guardian. Spanish Newspaper El Confidencial describes the people applying for the settlement as castaways of Brexit, highlighting that the main problem lies in the system selected by UK authorities, based in direct applications rather than in a registry. Many particular issues still need to be clarified, and that is the case of children placed in care with parents with EU origins. Despite being born in the UK, they risk becoming undocumented and losing their residency once they turn 18, warns AFP. 

Erik Ruiz Martín & Nadine Vermeulen

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Photo de Sharon McCutcheon provenant de Pexels


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