Written by Eva-Maria Poptcheva
Freedom of expression and information, as well as the freedom of the press, which provides the most powerful platform for the first two, contribute significantly to the formation of public opinion, thus allowing people to make informed choices in their political decisions. These freedoms are therefore essential for democracy, which is one of the fundamental values common to all Member States, on which the European Union is founded (Article 2 TEU). Within the EU legal framework, press freedom is a fundamental right established in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, with its provision closely resembling that on press freedom in the European Convention on Human Rights.
At EU level media freedom was long dealt with purely relative to the Single Market, and thus from a rather economic point of view. However, the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU), for its part, started to see the importance of media pluralism very early, not only for the free movement of services across the EU but also in order to ensure a pluralism in views. The Court’s rulings underlined the importance of media pluralism and media freedom not only for the internal market but also for democracy in the EU.
The European Parliament has repeatedly advocated press freedom and media pluralism in the EU and abroad. It has recently addressed the issue of the effectiveness of press freedom as an EU fundamental right and an objective EU value, in view of the scarce possibility for the EU institutions to act to enforce respect for EU fundamental rights and values by Member States.