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 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
Gumenyuk MFRR Summit Library

Nataliya Gumenyuk announced as keynote for MFRR Summit 2023

Nataliya Gumenyuk announced as keynote for MFRR Summit 2023

The MFRR partners are delighted to announce that Ukrainian journalist and author, Nataliya Gumenyuk, will deliver the keynote speech at the 2023 MFRR Summit. 

Nataliya Gumenyuk is a well-known Ukrainian journalist and author specialising in conflict reporting. She is the founder and CEO of the Public Interest Journalism Lab which promotes constructive discussion around complex social issues. Since the Russian invasion, PIJL pivoted to frontline media reporting and launched “The Reckoning Project: Ukraine Testifies” which documents war crimes.


Nataliya is the author of several documentaries and books, including “The Lost Island: Tales From The Occupied Crimea” and “The Maidan Tahrir”. Nataliya is based in Kyiv and regularly writes for The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Rolling Stone, Die Zeit, and The Atlantic, and provides commentaries for CNN, MSNBC, Sky News, etc.


Gumenyuk co-founded Hromadske TV and Hromadske International where she served as head for 5 years, and is currently a Board member.


Reporting the War in a Democracy: Freedom, Security, Responsibility

The state of Ukrainian media landscape, its conditions for reporting during war, as well as safety and protection of journalists in the country will be the central focus of Gumenyuk’s keynote.


Nataliya will raise the issues of the challenges and resilience of the Ukrainian media. She will draw parallels in covering the war and covering natural disasters, and how it differs from reporting war in a democracy. 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.

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