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Award ceremony: European Citizen’s Prize 2020 and 2021

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The winners of the 2020 and 2021 Citizen’s Prize received their awards in a ceremony at the European Parliament in Brussels on 9 November, EU affairs.

Awarded by the European Parliament since 2008, the European Citizen’s Prize recognizes initiatives showing solidarity, European co-operation and the promotion of common values.

"Our winners might not be celebrities, might not be people with millions of followers on social media," said Dita Charanzová, MEP and Chancellor of the European Citizen’s Prize, "but each winner is proof that real heroes can be any ordinary person who cares enough to do something extraordinary."

Who can be nominated

Any EU citizen can nominate a person or an organisation. The prize goes to projects that encourage closer integration between EU citizens, facilitate cross-border cooperation and promote the European spirit and values.

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The winners

This year the award ceremony was exceptional as it featured winners from 2020 as well as 2021. Find out more about them:

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Awards

President von der Leyen stresses accomplishments of the strong EU-US partnership upon receiving Atlantic Council's Distinguished Leadership Award

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On 10 November, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (pictured) received the Atlantic Council's Distinguished Leadership Award in Washington DC, honouring her for “her lifetime of accomplishment as a true European and transatlantic citizen, and for her positive impact advancing a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace”.

In her acceptance speech, the president expressed that she feels like a European and transatlantic citizen, thanks to her upbringing and life journey: “The story of the transatlantic ties is made of millions of stories like mine. But most importantly, it's made of shared values and interests between the two shores of the Ocean.”

The president highlighted that the EU and the US are “natural partners”, who together can shape the economic recovery, fight climate change, rewrite modern rules for the global economy and protect democracy. The President notably recalled the joint efforts and pledges announced at the COP26 in Glasgow only days ago as well as cooperation in the EU-US Trade and Technology Council to diversify and improve resilience. Finally, President von der Leyen urged: “It is again time to stand up for the values that define our democracies. We believe in the freedom of citizens with both rights and responsibilities. We believe in the rule of law, every human being is equal before the law. We believe in the dignity of every person and thus the fundamental rights. It is again time to speak up for our democracies.”

Read the full speech online and watch it back here.

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The Pegasus Project awarded the 2021 Daphne Caruana Galizia Prize for Journalism

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On 14 October, the Daphne Caruana Prize for Journalism was awarded to the journalists from the Pegasus Project coordinated by the Forbidden Stories Consortium.

The award ceremony held in the Press Centre of the European Parliament was opened by the President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli.

From 22 June to 1st September 2021, more than 200 journalists from the 27 EU countries submitted their media stories to a panel of judges.

Representing the 29 members of the European jury, the Secretary General of the International Federation of Journalists, Anthony Bellanger, presented the 20.000 EUR prize money to the representatives of the consortium, Sandrine Rigaud and Laurent Richard.

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About the winner

Forbidden Stories is a consortium of journalists whose mission is to continue the investigations of murdered, imprisoned or threatened journalists.

Since its inception in 2017, Forbidden Stories and its partners have pursued the work of Daphne Caruana Galizia, but also of journalists murdered for their investigations into environmental crimes or Mexican cartels.

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With more than 30 partner news organizations around the world and nearly 100 journalists, Forbidden Stories relies on a network that believes strongly in collaborative journalism. For its work, Forbidden Stories has won prestigious awards around the world, including the European Press Prize and the Georges Polk Award.

About the winning story

Pegasus: The new global weapon for silencing journalists • Forbidden Stories

Short summary of the winning story:

An unprecedented leak of more than 50,000 phone numbers selected for surveillance by the customers of the Israeli company NSO Group shows how this technology has been systematically abused for years. The Forbidden Stories consortium and Amnesty International had access to records of phone numbers selected by NSO clients in more than 50 countries since 2016.

Journalists from the Pegasus Project – more than 80 reporters from 17 media organizations in 10 countries coordinated by Forbidden Stories with the technical support of Amnesty International’s Security Lab – sifted through these records of phone numbers and were able to take a peak behind the curtain of this surveillance weapon, which had never been possible to this extent before.

The Forbidden Stories consortium discovered that, contrary to what NSO Group has claimed for many years, including in a recent transparency report, this spyware has been widely misused. The leaked data showed that at least 180 journalists have been selected as targets in countries like India, Mexico, Hungary, Morocco and France, among others. Potential targets also include human rights defenders, academics, businesspeople, lawyers, doctors, union leaders, diplomats, politicians and several heads of states.

For more information about the Pegasus project:

Pegasus: The new global weapon for silencing journalists • Forbidden Stories

About the Prize

The Daphne Caruana Prize was initiated by a decision of the Bureau of the European Parliament in December 2019 as a tribute to Daphne Caruana Galizia, a Maltese anti-corruption investigative journalist and blogger who was killed in a car bomb attack in 2017.

The Prize is rewarded on a yearly basis (on the 16 October, the date Daphne Caruana Galizia was assassinated) to outstanding journalism that promotes or defends the core principles and values of the European Union such as human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, rule of law, and human rights. This is the first year the prize has been awarded.

The Prize was opened to professional journalists and teams of professional journalists of any nationality to submit in-depth pieces that have been published or broadcast by media based in one of the 27 European Union member states. The aim is to support and highlight the importance of professional journalism in safeguarding freedom, equality and opportunity.

The independent jury was composed of representatives of the press and civil society from the 27 European member states and representatives of the main European Associations of Journalism.

The prize and the €20 000 prize money demonstrates the European Parliament’s strong support for investigative journalism and the importance of free press.

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Commission announces winners of Megalizzi-Niedzielski prize 2021 for aspiring journalists and launches a new call for proposals

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The Commission has announced the winners of the 2021 Megalizzi-Niedzielski prize for aspiring journalists: Irene Barahona Fernández from Spain and Jack Ryan from Ireland. Irene and Jack received the prize for their promising work, dedication to quality journalism and attachment to EU values. Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira, said: “We are glad to see that European young journalists are full of energy and show interest in the EU.Once again, during the Covid crisis, we have seen the importance of accurate and informative media. A free press, like all the institutions of democracy, must not be taken for granted; we must water the plant of democracy if we want it to continue to benefit from its fruit. It is important to think of the future of journalism, and to support and nurture young journalists. That is why we have launched another round of support for media.” During the awards ceremony, the Commission has launched the 5th call for proposals supporting information measures relating to EU Cohesion policy, with an overall budget of €7 million. Media, as well as universities, communication agencies and other private entities and public bodies are invited to submit their proposals for editorially independent reporting on Cohesion policy. The Commission will cover 80% of the cost of the projects, with grants up to €300,000 for selected beneficiaries. The deadline for application is 11 January 2022. The Megalizzi – Niedzielski prize for aspiring journalists was launched in 2019 and honours the memory of Antonio Megalizzi and Bartek Pedro Orent-Niedzielski, young European journalists with strong attachment to the EU and its values, who lost their lives after a terrorist attack in Strasbourg in late 2018. Examples of communication actions of previous beneficiaries can be found on this interactive map.

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