BRUSSELS, Oct. 8 (UPI) -- The European Union has entered the brawl over Italian press freedom, as some members called for sanctions and others accused the EU of interference.
Dutch European Parliament member Judith Sargentini said the EU treaty permits a probe of the situation in Italy, where Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi owns three commercial broadcasters, indirectly controls three public channels, and owns magazines, newspapers and radio stations, as well as the country's largest publishing house, the EUObserver reported Wednesday.
"(If) they don't shape up, then they should take away their voting rights in the council," Sargentini said.
"We are extremely worried. The EU was set up to defend common values of peace and freedom, not to intimidate people with regard to press and media freedom," European Parliament member Guy Verhofstadt said Wednesday.
Other members rallied behind Berlusconi, who has sued publications in several countries for reporting about about escort girls and state flights used to transport them to his villas, the publication said.
"The European Parliament is not the right place to discuss a national issue," France's Joseph Daul said. "This is political interference designed to disturb a political opponent who was democratically elected by the Italian people."