Politico reports that a Belgian decision to charge journalists €100 per year to attend summits of EU leaders was criticized by unions and the European Commission.
Journalists were informed this week by the European Council that they will need to pay €50 every six months to gain accreditation to EU summits.
The decision came into force through a Belgian Royal Decree on May 8. Journalists were not consulted by the Belgian government on the fees.
On Wednesday, the European Commission said it objected to the policy and that, as the guardian of the treaty that governs the EU, it would examine any complaint filed on the subject.
“We believe journalists should be doing their jobs in the best conditions possible,” said Mina Andreeva, a Commission spokesperson, adding that the Commission would not introduce fees for covering any of its events.
The International Press Association (API-IPA), a union representing foreign correspondents in Brussels, called the fees “an unnecessary obstacle” to reporting, raising the question of whether a free press can function without free access to events of public interest. It said in a statement that the fee is especially problematic for freelancers, who “will have to pay the fee themselves, while employees from media organisations will be able to have the expense covered by their employers.”