Year after year the organizations that globally monitor the freedom of speech and of the press reach the same depressing result: in the last decades there has been a gradual erosion of free speech. Freedom House claim that on the web, globally, the freedom of expression and information has been curtailed for the fourth year consecutively. Concerning the free press in Europe the organisation drily points out that “press freedom faces threats in a number of states.”
In the Reporters Without Borders’ world press freedom index there is a similar assessment: 2014 was a dark year that saw an escalating number of assaults against journalists and bloggers around the world. They claim, furthermore, that compared to other regions, Europe’s ratings fell steeply, the reason being that some countries have encountered severe problems during the year—problems that the EU system has been unable to control.
In these surveys Europe has long been rated “best in class.” But something has happened. Even here it is harder to uphold a free debating climate and the hindrances can differ between countries from direct threats to semi-censorship to self-censorship.