More than 60 teams of EU-based investigative journalists have applied for grants worth more than 2 million euros as part of the inaugural #IJ4EU fund, jointly launched by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) and the International Press Institute (IPI) in March.

The #IJ4EU fund is intended to support collaboration among EU-based journalists and newsrooms on disclosures in the public interest and of cross-border significance. The fund aims to foster investigations that reflect the media’s watchdog role and that assist the public in holding those in power accountable for their actions to their obligations. In doing so, it seeks to contribute to the sustainability of democracy and the rule of law in the EU.

A total of 63 cross-border teams applied for the fund by the deadline of May 3, 2018. Teams are eligible to receive a maximum 50,000 euros per project, with up to 450,000 euros being disbursed in all.

“We are thrilled to have received so many strong applications from diverse groups of journalists and media outlets across the EU”, IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said. “The high level of interest shows that there is great need to support investigative projects on issues of public interest that transcend borders, and the #IJ4EU fund offers an excellent opportunity to provide precisely such support.”

“Throughout the EU political and economic pressure has diminished the range of investigative journalism considerably”, ECPMF Managing Director Lutz Kinkel said. “With the #IJ4EU grant we have an instrument to deal productively with the situation. We are very happy to provide this help that hopefully will result in dozens of compelling publications.”

An independent jury led by Süddeutsche Zeitung Editor-in-Chief Wolfgang Krach, who played a leading role in the #PanamaPapers and #ParadisePapers investigations, will select the projects to receive funding.

This year’s #IJ4EU fund was open to teams comprising journalists or media outlets based in at least two EU countries. Projects must aim to reveal new information on a wide range of possible topics ranging from corruption and financial crime to climate change. The fund will consider all types of media platforms, including print, broadcast, online media, documentary filmmaking and multi-platform storytelling.

The #IJ4EU fund is independently managed by IPI, based in Vienna. Founded in 1950, IPI is a global network of editors, journalists and media executives dedicated to furthering and safeguarding press freedom, promoting the free flow of news and information, and improving the practices of journalism.

Funding for the programme was provided by the European Commission to the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF). Based in Leipzig, ECPMF monitors violations of the European Charter on Freedom of the Press and provides practical help for journalists under threat. For the purposes of #IJ4EU, ECPMF formed an alliance with IPI.

Other #IJ4EU partners include the crowdfunding platform Press Start, which will offer certain eligible projects the possibility to raise additional funds.