An independent jury has selected 14 teams from across Europe to receive support under the latest round of the IJ4EU Freelancer Support Scheme, which offers funding, mentoring, training and networking opportunities.

Run by the European Journalism Centre (EJC), the Freelancer Support Scheme is designed for teams of journalists working predominantly outside of newsroom structures who collaborate on cross-border investigations on topics of public interest in Europe and beyond.

The selected projects 

The external jury selected 14 proposals on topics ranging from migration and sexual abuse of asylum seekers to corruption, disinformation and the environment. The awarded teams include members based in 17 different countries. 

Here are summaries of the successful projects and the awarded amounts, in no particular order:

  • A cross-border investigative team will explore how EU countries handle the bodies of migrants and refugees who have lost their lives en route to Europe, mapping the proliferation of unmarked grave sites along EU borders and asking whether the rights for families to identify and claim the bodies of loved ones are being upheld. (Grant awarded: €20,000)
  • A cross-border team of journalists from Lebanon, Spain and Germany will investigate sexual violence against asylum seekers. (€18,910)
  • A cross-border team of three freelance journalists will investigate the distribution of medicines and psychotropic drugs to migrants and refugees on the move along the Balkan route. (€15,003)
  • An investigation about the dirty underbelly of the bluefin tuna business in the sea between Malta, Italy and Libya. What makes illegal fishing thrive while traditional fishermen bear the brunt of an industry in which a few have become millionaires or billionaires while Mediterranean and European consumers suffer the consequences of corruption, criminality and environmental damage? (€20,000)
  • A cross-border investigation by three freelance journalists on the impact of heat on the health of agricultural workers in Italy and Spain (€9,650)
  • An investigation by a team of journalists from Ukraine, Moldova and Romania, revealing companies based in EU and NATO countries that agree to fuel Russian military vehicles based in Transnistria, a territory controlled by Russia, despite sanctions (€19,900)
  • A team of four journalists on two continents will unpick environmental issues in a project that will test a collaboration model between local and regional titles in a Romanian press network. (€20,000)
  • A cross-border investigation by a team of freelance journalists from Italy, Romania and Turkey exploring the application of seismic codes in European countries with the highest earthquake risks, uncovering evidence of negligence and corruption (€17,500)
  • Two freelance journalists based in Italy and Spain will investigate nurdle pollution in the EU, describing its sources, analysing the risks it poses to marine life and human health, and exploring the regulatory loopholes that make it difficult to hold polluters accountable. (€17,650)
  • Two freelance journalists based in Lithuania and Latvia will investigate migration along Belarus’s Baltic borders, the criminalisation of humanitarian aid and abuses of human rights. (€13,682)
  • Two freelance journalists will carry out an investigative project involving in-depth interviews with Russian prisoners of war in Ukraine, exploring their sense of responsibility in taking part in Moscow’s war of aggression. (€19,520)
  • A team of two freelance journalists from Finland and Belgium will investigate the daily cross-border road transport of puppies within the European Union in a project combining journalism and scientific research. (€15,640)
  • A cross-border investigation exploring the spread and impact of pro-Russian propaganda through deep-fake images and videos in Italy and Spain (€9,995)
  • A cross-border team of journalists will investigate how disinformation systems perpetuate unrest and undermine governments worldwide. (€18,900)

About the Freelancer Support Scheme 

The Freelancer Support Scheme is one of two grant schemes offered by the Investigative Journalism for Europe (IJ4EU) fund, which supports cross-border, collaborative journalism in the European Union and beyond. The Freelancer Support Scheme runs in parallel to the Investigation Support Scheme, managed by the International Press Institute

Altogether, IJ4EU has allocated more than €1.23 million in grants in 2022/23, alongside other forms of assistance such as mentoring, practical support and legal help. Independent juries distributed around €900,000 through the Investigation Support Scheme and more than €330,000 through the Freelancer Support Scheme.

IJ4EU also honours excellence in cross-border investigative journalism with cash prizes. The winners of this year’s IJ4EU Impact Award, managed by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, were announced on 31 March.

Read more about the IJ4EU fund and why we’re dedicated to supporting investigative journalism.

IJ4EU is co-funded by the European Commission as a Preparatory Action. It is implemented by a consortium led by IPI in partnership with the EJC and the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom.

Interested in learning more about projects previously funded by IJ4EU? Check out the projects section on the IJ4EU site.