(Version francaise ci-dessous)
Belgian authorities are reviewing their plans to charge a €50 security screening fee to journalists seeking for accreditation to European Council summit meetings.
Thanks to campaigning by the International Press Association (API-IPA), representing Brussels-based foreign journalists, together with Belgian journalist unions VVJ and AJP, Belgian authorities have now signaled an exemption for journalists.
The exemption requires an amendment to a Belgian law passed in February 2018.
"This is great news because Brussels-based journalists seeking to attend the upcoming European summits in October and December no longer have to pay the €50 fee," says API-IPA president Tom Weingärtner.
Weingärtner adds that correspondents with European summit accreditation for the first half of 2018 will not have to apply and be screened again for summits in the second half of 2018. API-IPA has also been notified that there will be no new and stricter security screening criteria for journalists seeking accreditation other than procedures already in place.
API-IPA and the Belgian journalist unions want Belgian authorities to make criteria clear and explain how they are applied by security agencies. There should be a clear appeal procedure for journalists whose application for accreditation has been denied for security reasons.
The European Council has also informed API-IPA that the current six-month badges for EU summits held in Brussels will be replaced, from 2019, by an annual badge following a single security screening procedure - at no charge.
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