Brussels – European Commission Vice-President Vera Jourova has called for a “swift solution to fund the STA that would fully preserve its independence” in a letter addressed to Culture Minister Vasko Simoniti.
She says independent media are crucial for democracies and the Commission supports “the important role of independent news agencies to guarantee media freedom and media pluralism across the EU”.
It is therefore important that member states “refrain from any attempts to put direct or indirect pressure on media, including by withholding the necessary financing”.
Jourova also mentions a recent Supreme Court decision in which judges upheld the government’s obligation to fund the STA in accordance with the law even as they turned down the STA’s request for a stay of a June government decree on the STA public service.
She said the court had confirmed that “it is the duty of the Slovenian government to ensure the independence and the appropriate funding for the public service provided by the STA”.
“We understand that this obligation applies irrespective of the eventual conclusion of a public service contract.”
The STA remains without public funding and negotiations are currently under way with the Government Communication Office (UKOM) on a public service agreement for 2021.
The talks had broken down once before with the STA director describing the proposed contract as damaging for the agency, but they resumed after a meeting brokered by President Borut Pahor.