Across Europe, the AEJ brings together individual journalists through their membership of the national sections. The AEJ was set up in 1962 in the then six EEC-countries and was founded by 6 journalists, convinced by the need for European integration in a democratic way who believed in the potential of journalism to promote European harmony. For that reason they were determined to defend the freedom of information and freedom of the press in Europe.
Most activities of the AEJ are arranged by the sections at national level. However, one of the aims of the international association is to create links between individual journalists; to exchange contacts, information and ideas. The AEJ partners with the European Journalism Centre (EJC), an independent institution for further training of journalists.
There are now more than 20 sections, independently established in countries that belong to the Council of Europe. Members in each section are drawn from a wide spectrum of the media staff and freelance contributors to television, radio, national, regional and specialists newspapers and periodicals and the new media. Membership in each section is open to all journalists including foreign media representatives based in the country.
Registered under Belgian law, the AEJ is an independent non-profit-making international organisation with neither party-political nor union ties. It has NGO status with UNESCO and the Council of Europe; is a member of the European Movement and has a working relation with the Representative on Freedom of the Media OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe).
Media Freedom in Europe is one of the main subjects for the AEJ. William Horsley has been elected by the General Assembly to be responsible for the subject and has appointed him as AEJ Media Freedom Representative. The Council of Europe’s Media Steering Committee has given the AEJ the ‘Observer Status’.
Every year most AEJ sections spend attention to World Press Freedom Day (May 3) by organising special events and activities.
At European level, the AEJ is governed by a democratic structure consisting of the General Assembly and board.
Each year one of the sections hosts the AEJ’s annual congress. The sections participate in the voting and debate at the General Assembly through their representatives.
The annual congress provides an opportunity to meet a network of like-minded journalists from around the continent. One day is given over to a conference on an issue of current interest. The General Assembly debates and can pass resolutions on current cases where journalistic freedoms are in jeopardy.