IJ4EU allows newsrooms and freelancers across Europe to collaborate on ambitious investigations, tackling pressing topics and sparking public debate with the power to affect policy on the issues facing the EU and its citizens.
IJ4EU in numbers
In 2020/21, the IJ4EU fund helped almost 300 journalists based in 47 countries pursue 49 cross-border investigations with €1.07 million in grant funding. The result was more than 600 stories published by around 250 media outlets, reaching tens of millions of people.
This followed a successful pilot programme in 2018 when IJ4EU supported 12 projects across a diverse range of topics with €350,000 in grant funding.
In 2021/22, the IJ4EU fund has €1.1 million to give away in grants, along with other forms of support.
By the end of this third year, IJ4EU will have disbursed more than €2.5 million in grants to high-impact, cross-border projects.
The International Press Institute, the lead partner in the IJ4EU consortium, commissioned an independent evaluation of the 2020/21 IJ4EU programme. Carried out between March 25 and May 18, 2021, the evaluation was led by Marius Dragomir, director of the Central European University Center for Media, Data & Society.
The study combined interviews, document analysis, audience and social media analysis, context analysis, surveys, policy and legal mapping and secondary research.
“Arguably the largest achievement of the IJ4EU project is its impact on building a viable funding model for investigative journalism,” the report said. “Thanks to the design of the consortium, a combination of public and philanthropic funds disbursed to media outlets and journalists by a consortium of independent media freedom and journalism NGOs, IJ4EU guaranteed editorial independence, something rare today in many European nations, and created the space and resources that allowed investigative journalists to produce high-quality, impactful work.”
The evaluation concluded: “Arguably, IJ4EU is the most viable funding model for investigative journalism tested to date, especially for small media outlets or journalistic groups that only specialise in investigative reporting.”
Investigations with impact
The independent evaluation noted that IJ4EU-supported investigations have sparked public and political debate and provoked reactions from authorities and private companies. They have triggered countless pickups by other media and been widely cited in policy documents.
Here are examples of recent IJ4EU investigations that have had a dramatic impact.
Frontex at Fault, an investigation into alleged complicity in human rights abuses by the EU border agency, triggered:
- Internal inquiries at Frontex;
- Two extraordinary Frontex management board meetings;
- A decision by Frontex to investigate incidents documented in the project;
- A hearing of Frontex’s director before the European Parliament;
- An announcement by the competent Commissioner that Brussels would investigate all allegations of human rights violations at the EU’s external border.
The Frontex Files, another project focused on the EU border agency, prompted MEPs from across the political spectrum to intervene in the debate, a process that led to a European Parliament inquiry into Frontex. Journalists involved in the investigation were invited to address the parliament’s Frontex scrutiny group. All of which fed into public and political debate about Frontex’s conduct.
Corruption in the Danube Delta, an investigation into the plunder of €1 billion of EU development funds from a UNESCO world heritage site in Romania, prompted the European Union to suspend payments to the Danube Delta and ask Romanian authorities to investigate. OLAF, the European Anti-Fraud Office, officially opened an investigation. The team of journalists was invited to present its findings in a special hearing of the European Parliament.
Passport Papers, an investigation into what it takes to purchase your way into European citizenship, prompted the European Commission to reiterate that EU values are not for sale. A European Parliament resolution noted its concern about the harmful impact of citizenship and residence schemes on the integrity of EU citizenship, and reiterated its call for Maltese authorities to assure transparency and end investor citizenship and residence schemes rather than simply modify them.
The COVID-19 Jackpot and Behind the Pledge, two investigations scrutinising the spending of COVID-19 funds in Europe, generated countless headlines across Europe. The latter triggered criticism of both the European Commission and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in the aftermath of #EmaLeaks, which revealed a cache of internal documents from EMA’s top management.
After the publication of Reaping the Harvest, an investigation into labour conditions facing eastern European migrant farmworkers in Ireland, Irish MEP Clare Daly cited the findings in a social media post and promised to follow up on the issue in the European Parliament.
Money to Burn, an investigation into the environmentally destructive impacts of Europe’s biomass industry, was cited in the Estonian parliament and in a December 2020 meeting of the European Commission, in which attendees discussed a set of planned amendments to the Renewable Energy Directive. Money to Burn was also runner-up for the prestigious Innovation Award of the 2021 European Press Prize.
Europe in the Gas Trap, an investigation into self-sabotage of the EU’s own climate goals, triggered a wealth of political responses. For example, European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly criticised the Commission for its approach to the gas supply. “It is fair to say that the series of articles in the project, thanks also to the intervention of a raft of outspoken environment-focused NGOs, had an impact on the future of the ‘Green Deal’ for Europe,” the independent evaluation said.
The Kočner Library provided actionable evidence for law enforcement on a case that has convulsed Slovakia. The project investigated Marian Kočner, a Slovak businessman who stood accused of masterminding the killing of the Slovak journalist Jan Kuciak in 2018. The story unearthed new details about Kočner’s criminal activities.
Revelations by The Milk Ogre investigation of pollution of French rivers by Lactalis factories prompted France Nature Environnement, a federation of environmental associations, to file a complaint against the company. The project triggered numerous reactions from angered civil society groups, some of which went as far as to call for a boycott of Lactalis’ products.
The team behind Citizens as Suspects, an investigation into the European surveillance economy, built Open Security Data Europe as a resource for journalists, officials, civil society organisations, researchers and curious members of the public to take the story further.
Scores of news outlets across Europe have published investigations supported by IJ4EU grants, including:
15min.lt, 24 Chasa, 24 Vesti, 360 Magazine, 444.hu, 5W, Agencia EFE, Adevărul, Aktuality, AlgorithmWatch, Al Jazeera, Alternatives économiques, Apache, ARD, Arena for Journalism in Europe, Argos, Äripäeva, Associated Press, Athens Live, Átlátszó, Átlátszó Erdély, Balkan Insight, Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, BBC, Basta!, Bellingcat, Bivol, Bloomberg Businessweek, British Medical Journal, Brut, Bumm, Business Insider, Buzzfeed, Česká justice, CINS Serbia, Civio, CityMonitor, Coda, Constanta TV, ControRadio, Corporate Europe Observatory, CORRECTIV, Corriere della Sera, Courrier International, Czech Center for Investigative Journalism, Daily Beast, Dan, Danwatch, Danas, dasLamm, Decât o Revistă, Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation, De Groene Amsterdammer, Delfi, Deník Referendum, Denník N, Der Spiegel, Der Standard, Der Tagesspiegel, Deutschlandfunk, de Volkskrant, Die Rheinpfalz, Die Zeit, Dimosiografia, Direkt36, Disclose, Dnevnik, Dobré ráno, Domani, Dossier Center, Dublin InQuirer, E24, Earth Journalism Network, elDiario, E&T Magazine, Eesti Ekspress, Eesti Päevaleht, El Confidencial, El País, Epoch Times, ERR, EUobserver, Euromoves, Euronews, Europa FM, Expresso, Fair Planet, Follow the Money, Forbes Poland, France Culture, France 2, Frankfurter Rundschau, Gazeta Wyborcza, Glas Šumadije, G4Media, Health Policy Watch, Hersfelder Zeitung, Hessische Niedersächsische Allgemeine, Hitky, Hlavný denník, Hot News, Il Fatto Quotidiano, Index.hr, infoLibre, Info Sud-Est, Investico, Investigate Europe, Investigative Centre of Jan Kuciak, Investigative Journalism Center “Siena”, IRPIMedia, Italia Oggi, KVF, La Libre, La Repubblica, La Vanguardia, LaCroix, Le Courrier des Balkans, Le Courrier d’Europe centrale, Le Monde, L’Espresso, Le Poulpe, Lettera43, Le Vif/L’Express, LifeGate, Linkiesta, Lost in EUrope, Lovin Malta, LSM, Lupa, Luxemburger Wort, Magyar Hang, Makroscop, Malta Today, Mediapart, MillenniuM, Nacional, Newsweek Romania, NL Times, NOS, Noteworthy, Novosti, NPO, NRC, ObjektivNo1, Onet, openDemocracy, Open Migration, Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, Österreich 1, Oštro, Ouest-France, Oxpeckers, Politico, Politiken, Postimees, Prisma, Público, Rahvusringhääling, Radio Europa Liberă, Radio Free Europe, Radio France, Radio Radicale, Radiotelevisione svizzera, Rai, Re:Baltica, Reflekt, Regard, Reporters United, Republik, Respekt, Reuters, Rise Project Romania, Romania Insider, Romanian Public Broadcasting Company – Marosvásárhelyi Rádió, RTS, RTVBudva, Rue89 Strasbourg, Seznam Zprávy, SIC Portugal, Small Stream Media, Sme, Spiegel Online, Stavanger Aftenblad, Stiri Press, Stop Corruption Foundation, Süddeutsche Zeitung, SWR2 Wissen, Tages Anzeiger, Teknisk Ukeblad, The Black Sea, The Canary, The Guardian, The Intercept, The Malta Independent, The New Humanitarian, The Objective, The Shift, The Slovak Spectator, taz, Telex.hu, Times of Malta, Trends, Tribune, TV5MONDE, TV Asahi, TV Noviny, Új Szó, Ukraine Verstehen, UOL, Usbek & Rica, Vesti, VG, VoxEurop, VSquare, WDR, We Report, Wired, Wirtualna Polska, WoZ, WP Magazyn, ZDF, Zeit Online, ZIUA de Constanţa