10 Cross-Border Investigative Projects Shortlisted for IJ4EU Award

10 Cross-Border Investigative Projects Shortlisted for IJ4EU Award

Every year, the IJ4EU Impact Award recognises the best investigative journalism carried out by teams collaborating across borders in EU Member States and candidate countries.

Every year, the IJ4EU Impact Award recognises the best investigative journalism carried out by teams collaborating across borders in EU Member States and candidate countries.


Earlier this month we announced Joanna Krawczyk, Deputy Director of the German Marshall Fund, as our Jury Chair. Today, we are delighted to announce the ten projects to be nominated for the Impact Award in 2023.


Three winning teams will each get €5,000 in recognition of their work collaborating on stories that transcend national frontiers. Winners will be announced at an award ceremony in Leipzig, Germany, on 31 March.


Here are the 10 shortlisted entries, in alphabetical order and selected from a pool of nominations by independent evaluators assembled by ECPMF, a partner in the IJ4EU consortium:

Behind the Belarusian Sanctions

Despite harsh EU sanctions, Belarusian oil exports to Estonia reached record levels in 2021. Journalists from investigative centres and news outlets in four countries — Re:Baltica in Latvia, Delfi in Estonia, Siena in Lithuania and the Belarusian Investigative Center — reveal how the trade, initiated by the oligarch dubbed the “energy wallet of Lukashenko”, has been set up.

IJ4EU Impact Award

Black and White: Discrimination in the Exodus from Ukraine

As Europe focused on the mass of people fleeing Ukraine following Russia’s invasion last year, Dutch investigative non-profit Light House Reports identified an underreported aspect of the exodus: discrimination of non-Western residents as they tried to escape. Twenty-one journalists from eight countries set out to explore and illuminate the disturbingly unequal treatment of certain refugees that was otherwise going largely unnoticed.

Migrant Boat Drivers in the Dock

Over the past decade, Greek, Spanish and Italian border guards have increasingly targeted the drivers of migrant boats arriving on their countries’ shores, in their quest for someone to blame for “illegal” migration. Thousands of people, usually migrants themselves, have been arrested. Some may have been paid to drive the boat, others forced at gunpoint. Among them are unaccompanied minors, reveals this investigation by Lost in Europe.

Mining Secrets

Sixty-five journalists, coordinated by Forbidden Stories, came together to pursue the work of colleagues threatened for investigating environmental scandals in Guatemala. Drawing on hundreds of thousands of leaked documents, the team revealed how journalists who reported on a powerful mining conglomerate were systematically profiled, surveilled and even followed by drones.

Suisse Secrets

Led by the Organized Crime and Reporting Project and German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, Suisse Secrets brought together more than 160 journalists from 48 outlets on five continents to investigate leaked records containing 18,000 Credit Suisse accounts, the largest leak ever from a major Swiss bank.

The China Science Investigation

Are European scientists contributing to China’s quest to become a military superpower? This project led by Dutch investigative platform Follow the Money involved 30 journalists from seven countries who analysed more than 350,000 scientific papers involving collaborations between China and Europe. They found that nearly 3,000 were by researchers affiliated with European universities and their counterparts at military-linked institutions in China.

IJ4EU Impact Award

The Devil in the Data

This undercover investigation by a group of freelancers in four countries reveals how live data fed to the sports betting industry can create a fertile ground for match-fixing. The journalists involved were Andy Brown, Philippe Auclair, Steve Menary and Jack Kerr.

IJ4EU Impact Award

The Ericsson List

Based on a leaked internal compliance report, this investigation reveals that the Swedish-based multinational sought permission from Islamic State extremists to work in an ISIS-controlled city in Iraq and paid to smuggle equipment into ISIS areas on a route known as the “Speedway”. Led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the project involved 31 media partners in 22 countries.

IJ4EU Impact Award

The Xinjiang Police Files

In recent years, the Chinese state has allegedly locked away a million Uyghurs in internment camps. This project attaches names and faces to this brutal system, providing an unprecedented look behind the veil of secrecy. Involving journalists based in eight countries, the investigation was carried out by a team of independent outlets brought together by German news site Der Spiegel.

Unmasking Europe’s Shadow Armies

This investigation led by Light House Reports, a Dutch-based non-profit that works with newsrooms across Europe, exposes the mysterious men in masks who beat refugees at Europe’s borders. It gives the most detailed picture yet of a previously deniable campaign of illegal, violent “pushbacks” in Croatia, Greece and Romania by masked men whose uniforms have been stripped of any identifying details.

Recognising resilience

The IJ4EU Impact Award ceremony will act as a finale to the MFRR Summit 2023. By hosting the awards at the summit, the IJ4EU fund seeks to underline the bravery and resilience of investigative journalists in the face of growing assaults on media freedom and pluralism.


The awards will be livestreamed on March 31 on the ECPMF YouTube channel. For more information, check out the MFRR Summit website.

MFRR Summit Day 3

MFRR Summit 2023 | Day 3

MFRR Summit 2023 | Day 3

Media capture


From Hungary and Poland to the Czech Republic and Slovenia, Europe – in particular central Europe – has become a hotbed for state capture of media. The panels on day 3 will look into the crisis of political exploitation of the media through the abuse of state economic and regulatory levers. It will examine issues around media pluralism, ownership transparency and the abuse of state budgets to fund clientelist media in illiberal democracies. It will also debate whether the EU’s Media Freedom Act can provide the tools to prevent the march towards politically captured media.

Keynote: Media Pluralism in Crisis

12:15 – 12:35 CET

During the final keynote of the MFRR Summit 2023, Julia Cage, Associate Professor of Economics, Sciences Po Paris, will discuss news as a public good and highlight solutions to solve the media crisis. The speech will outline the particular importance of democratic governance structures for media organisations as well as potential solutions for supporting the funding of both private media and public broadcasters.


  • Julia Cage, Associate Professor of Economics, Sciences Po Paris

Standing up for pluralistic media in France

12:35 – 13:00 CET

The panel will offer a response to the keynote delivered by Julia Cage, exploring the issues raised on media ownership, media pluralism, and media capture in depth and its implications for media freedom in France.


  • Dimitra Laurence Larochelle, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Scholar, Université du Québec à Montréal (CELAT) & Université Sorbonne Nouvelle
  • Alan Ouakrat, Associate Professor in Communication & Media Studies, University Sorbonne Nouvelle 


  • Camille Petit, Communications Officer, European Federation of Journalists

Media Capture in Slovakia

Defending a fragile pluralism

13:15-13:30 CET

This interview with Peter Hanak – journalist at Aktuality.sk and researcher at the International Press Institute (IPI) – will focus on IPI’s latest report into media capture in Slovakia, where public service media have been compromised and the parliamentary appointment of board members to public media and regulatory bodies creates politicised structures. During the interview there will also be a focus on media pluralism across the private media sector, their relations to politicians and prospects for media reform. The interview will be conducted by Oliver Money-Kyrle, Head of Europe Advocacy and Programmes at IPI.


  • Peter Hanak, Journalist at Aktuality.sk, Researcher at International Press Institute, Lecturer at Comenius University Bratislava


  • Oliver Money-Kyrle, Head of European Advocacy, International Press Institute

Media capture in action

Hungary, Bulgaria and Greece

13:30 – 14:15 CET

Panel 2 of Day 3 features an esteemed panel of experts from Hungary, Greece, and Bulgaria who will share their insights on media capture and its impact on independent journalism. This panel will discuss the impact of media capture on independent journalism, the forces behind media capture and the abuse of state powers to create clientelist media. It will also look at how media are being forced to adapt to survive and serve their communities.


  • Tamas Bodoky, Editor in Chief, Atlatszo
  • Lambrini Papadopoulou, Assistant Professor, Department of Communication and Media Studies, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
  • Velislava Popova, Editor, Dnevnik


  • Jamie Wiseman, Advocacy Officer, International Press Institute

The EMFA’s role in tackling media capture

14:30 – 15:15 CET

Join us for an insightful panel discussion on the Media Freedom Act, launched by the European Commission in September 2022. The Act aims to protect independent journalism against the forces of media capture and is currently in the midst of the legislative process. Our panel of media policy experts will assess the strengths and weaknesses of the Act and share their insights on how it can help protect independent journalism against the forces of media capture.


  • Audrius Perkauskas, Deputy Head of Unit, Audiovisual and Media Policy, European Commission
  • Renate Schroeder, Director, European Federation of Journalists
  • Olaf Steenfadt, Founder and Managing Director at Global Media Registry


  • Oliver Money-Kyrle, Head of European Advocacy, Internatonal Press Institute

The practical applications of the Media Freedom Act

15:30 – 15:45 CET

Next on the list is an interview with Marius Dragomir, Director of the Media and Journalism Research Center and a leading expert on media capture. In this interview, Dragomir will answer pressing questions regarding the practical applications of the Media Freedom Act. He will share his insights on what aspects of the Act are likely to work effectively, what still remains as wishful thinking, and how to ensure that the EMFA is implemented in a meaningful and impactful way. The interview will be conducted by Laurens Hueting, Senior Advocacy Officer at the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF).


  • Marius Dragomir, Director, Media and Journalism Research Center


  • Laurens Hueting, Senior Advocacy Officer, European Centre for Press and Media Freedom

Governed by algorithms

Media Freedom in the digital age

15:45 – 16:00 CET

The last session of the 2023 Summit features an engaging interview with Andreas Ekström, a renowned Swedish journalist with over two decades of experience in the field. Ekström has been working at Sydsvenska, a daily newspaper published in Scania, Sweden since 1998. He is also a recognised expert on journalism, media, digitization, and copyright issues, with a significant body of work dating back to 2003. In 2019, he was named “Speaker of the Year” in Sweden. In this interview, Gürkan Özturan, MFRR Project Coordinator at the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), will engage Ekström in a conversation about the challenges facing journalism in the digital age. The discussion will focus on the growing trend of news readers migrating to digital platforms and the associated challenges that come with it, such as the monopolisation of information by social media companies and their impact on editorial independence.


  • Andreas Ekström, Journalist, Sydsvenskan


  • Gürkan Özturan, MFRR Coordinator, European Centre for Press and Media Freedom

MFRR Summit 2023 | Day 2

MFRR Summit 2023 | Day 2

SLAPPs, Impunity, and Rule of Law


Across Europe we regularly see powerful entities abusing legal systems to stifle and smother critical reporting. Strategic litigation poses a major threat to independent media across the continent, in particular in countries where rule of law is weakest and vulnerable to abuse. Day 2 of the Summit will shine a spotlight on these topics as experts discuss initiatives to counter SLAPPs, impunity for crimes against journalists, and disinformation laws.

Keynote: Fundamental rights and the rule of law in the EU

Taking stock and the way forward

12:30 – 13:00 CET

Day 2 of the MFRR Summit 2023 will open with a keynote address from Andreas Accardo, Head of Institutional Cooperation and Networks Unit, European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights. Picking up on the theme set out by UNESCO concerning the World Press Freedom Day, “Shaping a Future of Rights”, this keynote will offer a perspective on how the EU can remain a role of model for human rights by responding to global developments in a fundamental rights compliant manner. A key element in this regard is the civic space, the role of civil society organisations, human rights defenders and journalists in upholding the rule of law and a fundamental rights culture.


  • Andreas Accardo, Head of Institutional Cooperation and Networks Unit, European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights

Taking steps towards ending SLAPPs

13:00 – 13:45 CET

European institutions have already established some standards through recommendations on how to counter Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) while more European legislative and non-legislative initiatives are expected to be finalised in the upcoming months and years. At national level, civil society and other stakeholders have joined forces to push for measures that would discourage SLAPPs and help targets. This panel will bring together representatives from the Coalition Against SLAPPs in Europe (CASE) and various Anti-SLAPP national groups to discuss measures being taken at national level to counter SLAPPs.


  • Marzena Blaszczyk, Board Member, Citizens Network Watchdog Poland
  • Susan Coughtrie, Director, Foreign Policy Centre, co-chair, UK Anti-SLAPP Coalition
  • Charlotte Michils, Legal Adviser Flemish/Belgian Association of Journalists & Lecturer Thomas More


  • Flutura Kusari, Senior Legal Advisor, European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)

Media, politics, and vexatious lawsuits

An Italian perspective

13:45 – 14:00 CET

In recent months, Italy has drawn the attention of several international organisations working on media freedom. A cause for concern is the rapid succession of defamation lawsuits and subsequent legal proceedings against Italian journalists and intellectuals brought up by politicians and high-ranking public figures. By exploring the case study of Italian newspaper Domani – which in a matter of months has been respectively threatened to be sued and sued by two high profile public figures – we will discuss defamation, SLAPPs, and the challenges Italian media face when reporting on public figures.


  • Francesca De Benedetti, Journalist, Domani



  • Dr. Sielke Beata Kelner, Researcher and Advocacy officer, Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa

Disinformation laws

Regulating the truth

14:15 – 15:00 CET

In Hungary, Greece, and Turkey governments have passed laws to regulate the basis of factuality under the title of “Disinformation Laws”. This session is going to bring forth the national contexts under which these laws have been drafted and passed, and how they have been implemented so far under different circumstances.


  • Dr. Kerem Altıparmak, Legal Consultant, International Commission of Jurists; Co-founder, Freedom of Expression Association
  • Tasos Telloglou, Journalist, Ekathimerini
  • Blanka Zoldi, Editor-in-chief, Lakmusz


  • Tom Gibson, EU Representative and Advocacy Manager, Committee to Protect Journalists

Rule of Law Reports

Protecting media pluralism and independence?

15:15 – 15:35 CET

The short panel will discuss the potential of the Rule of Law (RoL) mechanism by looking at the experience of transnational coalitions employing the RoL report for Europe-wide advocacy work. It will address the following key questions: How can European mechanisms such as the Rule of Law (RoL) report contribute to strengthening the protection of independent journalism across Europe? To what extent does it help foster an open and informed debate in member countries?


  • Tom Gibson, EU Representative and Advocacy Manager, Committee to Protect Journalists
  • Andrea Menapace, Executive Director, Italian Coalition for Civil Liberties and Rights (CILD)


  • Serena Epis, Editor and Researcher, Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa

Significance of Public Inquiry process in combating the culture of impunity

15:50 – 16:10 CET

Impunity has an impact much wider than the person or outlet that has been the target of a crime; it also affects the whole media sector as well as leaving their target audience in the dark. The murder cases of Daphne Caruana Galizia, Jan Kuciak, and Giorgos Karaivaz have all left a stain in recent years, as have the declarations of “cold cases” for journalist murders. This session will discuss the cases of impunity in recent years in Europe, its impact on media freedom and people’s right to access information, and the significance of the public inquiry process as part of calls for justice.


  • Therese Comodini Cachia, Human Rights Lawyer
  • Corinne Vella, Head of media relations, The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation


  • Sarah Clarke, Head of the Europe and Central Asia team, Article 19 Europe

Bolster Your Digital Safety

An Anti-Hacking, Anti-Doxing Workshop

17:00 – 18:30 CET

Learn to better protect yourself from impersonation, hacking, and doxing (the publishing of private info). With your devices in hand, join PEN America and Freedom of the Press Foundation for an interactive workshop where we’ll teach you how to audit your social media accounts, tighten your privacy settings, and track your personal information online so you can maintain the public profile you need to do your job.


Please note that this workshop is a closed event. You must register using the button below, even if you have already registered for the Summit.


  • Jeje Mohamed, Senior Manager, Digital Safety and Free Expression at PEN America
  • Harlo Holmes, Chief Information Security Officer & Director of Digital Security at Freedom of the Press Foundation

MFRR Summit 2023 | Day 1

MFRR Summit 2023 | Day 1

Safety of journalists


Journalist safety in Europe was thrown into the spotlight in 2022 following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with at least 10 journalists killed since 24 February. Outside of Ukraine, Europe remains an increasingly hostile environment for journalists to report from. From online attacks to physical violence, Day 1 of the Summit will highlight threats to journalists in EU Member States and candidate countries, sparking conversations on initiatives to support journalists in exile, reporting from a conflict zone, surveillance and spyware, and harassment in the newsroom.

Opening message

12:30 – 12:50 CET

The MFRR Summit 2023 will open with a speech from Věra Jourová, Vice President of the European Commission for Values and Transparency


  • Věra Jourová, Vice President of the European Commission for Values and Transparency

Keynote: Reporting the war in a democracy

Freedom, security, and responsibility

12:50 – 13:30 CET

The state of the Ukrainian media landscape, the conditions for reporters covering the war, and the safety and protection of journalists in the country will all take centre stage during the first keynote of the MFRR Summit 2023. Ukrainian journalist Nataliya Gumenyuk will discuss the challenges and resilience of Ukrainian media as it faces its greatest threat in modern history. She will draw parallels between covering the war and covering natural disasters, rather than focusing on war correspondence in a political context. During her speech, Gumenyuk will draw links to security, responsibility, and free expression in times of conflict; as well as the dehumanisation caused by propaganda and how this enables war crimes.


  • Natalia Gumenyuk, Director, Founder, The Public Interest Journalism Lab

One year of Russian aggression

How to support Ukrainian journalists’ work

13:45 – 14:30 CET

24 February 2023 marked one year since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Some Ukrainian journalists had previous experience with Russian aggression through the occupation of Donbas and Crimea. However, the escalation in this war of aggression –  with the declared goal to extinguish the Ukrainian nation – created new existential threats for Ukrainian media. Many media organisations and journalists had to flee as their homes came under attack or occupation. But while the media market collapsed, many Ukrainian journalists and newsrooms continued to work under extremely difficult circumstances. They became the eyes and ears of both Ukrainian citizens and also people around the world. In the meantime, international correspondents arrived in Ukraine to cover the conflict. In this session the panellists will speak about their work in the war, their achievements, their needs, and the support they have received so far.


  • Vassili Golod, Correspondent, ARD in Kyiv
  • Oksana Romaniuk, Institute of Mass Information
  • Kateryna Sergatskova, Editor in Chief, Zaborona Media, co-founder, 2402 Fund 


  • Rebecca Harms, Executive Board Member, European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, Former MEP

A view from the outside

Reporting in exile

14:45-15:30 CET

Due to threats to security and wellbeing, journalists, media workers, and even entire newsrooms can be forced to leave their home countries and find ways to continue their profession in exile. Relocation programmes offer temporary shelter for journalists that face harassment, intimidation, and threats as a result of their work. In this session, a journalist who had to leave their country will talk about their experience of being enrolled in the ECPMF Journalists-in-Residence programme; a representative of an exiled newsroom will discuss covering news from abroad; and a manager of the JiR programme will talk about the practicalities of and problems in offering safe shelter to journalists and media workers.


  • Tatsiana Ashurkevich, Political Journalist and Observer, Former Journalist-in-Residence, European Centre for Press and Media Freedom
  • Matthew Kasper, Publisher, Meydan TV Co-Director, Vereinigung für die Demokratie e. V.
  • Alina Toropova, Journalists-in-Residence Programme Manager, European Centre for Press and Media Freedom


  • Xhemajl Rexha, Chairperson, Association of Journalists of Kosovo

Surveying the landscape

Initiatives to counter spyware

15:45 – 16:05 CET

This discussion will explore the strengths and weaknesses of the current draft of Article 4 of the EMFA, through a comparative analysis of the existing independent authorities that the article requires member states to designate, in order to deal with complaints about breaches of provisions of the article itself. The lack of judicial ex-ante evaluation mechanisms will also be discussed as a key missing element which has attracted much criticism from media-focused NGOs and civil society organisations which have been called upon to provide feedback by the Commission.


  • Eugenia Siapera, Professor of Information and Communication Studies, Head of the ICS School at University College Dublin
  • Prof. em. Dirk Voorhoof, Professor, Human Rights Centre Ghent University


  • Dimitri Bettoni, Editor and Researcher, Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa


Harassment in the Newsroom

16:15 – 16:30 CET

Harassment in the newsroom is an undeniable form of abuse that many journalists experience, yet most incidents do not come to the surface. In 2022, the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network’s (BIRN) flagship website Balkan Insight published the investigation “Code of Silence: Fear, Stigma Surrounding Abuse of Greek Women Journalists,” a report on the abuse and harassment of Greek women journalists in their workplaces. The report covers incidents from 1993 to 2021, revealing that women journalists do not feel safe reporting incidents. In this spotlight interview, BIRN journalist Eleni Stamatoukou will explain the findings of her report and her methods of giving a voice to the women journalists that had to keep silent about the abuse they experienced.


  • Eleni Stamatoukou, Journalist, BIRN


  • Neus Vidal, Monitoring Officer, European Centre for Press and Media Freedom

Online Abuse Self-Defense Training


17:00 – 18:30 CET

This session equips writers and journalists, as well as their allies and employers, with practical tools and strategies to defend against online abuse. Taking a holistic approach to digital safety, we’ll talk about how to prepare, respond, take care of yourself, and support others.


Please note that this workshop is a closed event. You must register using the button below, even if you have already registered for the Summit.


  • Gisela Perez de Acha, Digital Safety Trainer & Investigative Reporter, PEN America
  • Viktorya Vilk, Programme Director, Digital Safety & Free Expression, PEN America