There has never been an absolute freedom of speech. Law students learn this in their first class on basic human rights. You can’t expect to shout "fire in a theatre" without being punished - unless there actually is a fire in the theatre. But as US President Obama said in Brussels, “Freedom isn’t free”. The same applies to our freedom of speech – it isn’t free, it isn’t absolute, and it shouldn’t be taken for granted.
If you thought old style dictators would never emerge again in Europe, take a look at Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, he’s polishing his autocratic credentials. Orban recently said he wants to abandon liberal democracy in favour of an “illiberal state,” citing Russia and Turkey his role models.
In Turkey this summer, the Deputy Prime Minister told women they should stop laughing in public. This is the same Turkey where the Prime Minister blocked Twitter to suppress social protest.
Can the European Commission continue to accept Turkey as a possible member of the EU? Will the European Commission tolerate Viktor Orban’s persecution of NGOs and aggressive strategy to limit press freedom? And how should Europe regulate the excesses of youthful indiscretion on social media - prosecution or education?
- Ryan Heath, Spokesperson, European Commission
- Marietje Schaake, member of European Parliament (Liberals, Netherlands)
- Sabine Verheyen, member of European Parliament (Centre-Right, Germany)
- Joe McNamee, Executive Director, European Digital Agenda
- Iverna McGowan, Director of Programmes at Amnesty International
- Marie-Thérèse Sanchez-Schmid, member of European Parliament, 2009-14, (Centre-Right, France)
- Tanja Fajon, member of European Parliament (Socialists, Slovenia)
- Adrien Abella, Teacher, France
By Brian Maguire, Political Correspondent
Get more videos of our "EU Files" series at
Subscribe to our channel at