Investigative journalism projects in Europe supported by the inaugural IJ4EU fund are off to a strong start, the International Press Institute (IPI) said today.

What is the IJ4EU fund?

The IJ4EU (Investigative Journalism for the EU) fund was launched earlier this year to encourage investigations that cross European borders. In June, an independent jury led by Süddeutsche Zeitung Editor-in-Chief Wolfgang Krach awarded €315,000 to 12 projects. The fund is backed by the European Commission via the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) and managed by IPI, a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists for press freedom. Projects supported by the fund are generally expected to be published by December 31, 2018.

What has been published so far?

Several of the projects have already published significant stories. Here are just a few examples:

• This October, Forbidden Stories and OCCRP launched the second round of the Daphne Project, supported by a €29,000 grant from IJ4EU. The Daphne Project gathered 45 journalists from 15 countries to continue the work of murdered Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. Media participating in the project, including The Guardian, La Repubblica and the Die Zeit, published over a dozen new stories around the first anniversary of Caruana Galizia’s murder, on topics ranging from illegal trafficking to Malta’s “golden passport” scheme.

• In September, a joint Bulgarian-Romanian team led by the investigative journalism websites and RISE Project Romania published an initial series of articles exposing massive fraud in EU-funded projects in Bulgaria and Romania. Already in October, Bivol estimated that €400 million worth of EU-funded projects had been halted or was under scrutiny due to what has been dubbed the #GPGate scandal. That represents a strong return on investment for the €38,000 that the two websites received from IJ4EU for their project. The resonance of the investigation was also underscored by attempts to harass the journalists involved. More disturbing was the murder in October of Victoria Marinova, a Bulgarian television journalist who, while not part of the investigative team, had covered the findings in her last broadcast. IPI, ECPMF and the IJ4EU jury have demanded an independent investigation in the case.

• A team led by the Baltic Centre for Investigative Journalism (Re:Baltica) and including journalists from Postimees (Estonia), Direkt36 (Hungary), (Lithuania) and Respekt (Czech Republic) the first story in a multi-part, cross-border series this October. The story, led by Direkt36, scrutinized Hungary’s relationship with Russia in light of the Skripal affair.

Vsquare, a network of independent media in the Visegrád countries and consisting of journalists from Átlátszó (Hungary), Direkt36 (Hungary), the Czech Centre for Investigative Journalism, (Slovakia) and Fundacja Reporterów (Poland), has published the first articles in a series examining the “militarization” of patriotism in the region. Articles have focused on the revival of weapons manufacturing in Hungary and the establishment of Poland’s “territorial defence forces”.

What’s coming next?

Numerous stories under the IJ4EU grant will be published between now and the end of the year, featuring projects on a wide range of topics of public interest. These include Lost in Europe, a project led by Small Stream Media in the Netherlands, which is examining the disappearance of 10,000 migrant children in Europe thanks in part to a €35,000 IJ4EU grant.

Stay tuned!

How can I follow the stories published?

We’re updating the IJ4EU website to provide an overview of the projects being funded as well as the individual stories published. You can also follow IPI on social media (@globalfreemedia on Twitter and Facebook) and ECPMF (@ECPMF).