Ask EP By / September 5, 2023

What is the EU doing to ensure freedom of the media?

Citizens often turn to the European Parliament to ask what the European Union is doing to ensure freedom of the media.

© AdobeStock

Citizens often turn to the European Parliament to ask what the European Union is doing to ensure freedom of the media.

Media freedom and pluralism are among the core values of the European Union, and are included in the rights and principles enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. However, at a time when media freedom is being challenged in many countries all over the world, the European Union has taken action to protect the freedom and safety of media and journalists.

Position of the European Parliament

The European Parliament stresses the importance of independent journalism and access to pluralistic information as key pillars of democracy. It has repeatedly called for increased protection of journalists against lawsuits, attacks and intimidation, as well as for supporting and safeguarding a plurality of opinions.

In a November 2020 resolution on strengthening media freedom, the European Parliament voiced concerns about the state of media freedom within the EU. It also denounced the abuses and attacks perpetrated against journalists and media workers, highlighting the high vulnerability of female journalists to harassment and intimidation.

Members of the European Parliament have also addressed issues of media freedom and the safety of journalists in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, such as threats to media freedom, censorship in public media and government control of the media.

In 2023, Parliament denounced the increasing repression of critical voices, and attacks against journalists around the world, in countries like Kyrgyzstan, Algeria and Tunisia. It also addressed the war in Ukraine, which has been deadly for journalists. In July 2023, Parliament adopted a resolution calling on the EU to better protect journalists around the world.

Parliament has been calling for legislation to protect journalists. In November 2021, it adopted a resolution on lawsuits aimed at intimidating or discrediting journalists who have expressed critical views. Parliament called on the Commission to establish better protection and support mechanisms for victims of such lawsuits and the need to protect the safety and freedom of journalists. Following this call, the European Commission proposed new legislation in April 2022.

Parliament has also considered threats from foreign intervention. In two resolutions adopted in March 2022 and July 2023, Parliament urged the EU to create a common strategy to confront foreign interference and disinformation campaigns and called for more support to independent media, fact checkers and researchers.

To support journalists, Parliament awards, each year since 2021, the Daphne Caruana Prize for outstanding journalism reflecting EU values. The prize is a tribute to Daphne Caruana Galizia, a Maltese investigative journalist who was killed in a bomb attack in 2017. In addition, Parliament launched in April 2022 a scholarship scheme and training programmes for young journalists.

EU measures to protect media freedom

In September 2021, the Commission adopted a recommendation on ensuring the protection, safety and empowerment of journalists and other media professionals in the EU.

Following Parliament’s call from November 2021, the Commission proposed new rules in April 2022 in order to tackle strategic lawsuits against public participation. These rules would provide courts and victims of such lawsuits with the tools to fight back against manifestly unfounded or abusive court proceedings. The file is under consideration in the Parliament and Council.

In September 2022, the Commission proposed the European Media Freedom Act. This legislative proposal includes safeguards against political interference in editorial decisions and against surveillance. It focuses on the independence and stable funding of public service media. The proposal would also set up a new independent European Board for Media Services made up of national media authorities. It is currently under consideration in the Parliament and Council.

To respond to increasingly worrying trends across the EU in the media context, the Commission uses the Rule of Law Report and other tools such as the Media Pluralism Monitor. It also funds a rapid response scheme that tracks, monitors and reacts to violations of media freedom in EU and candidate countries.

Further Information

Keep sending your questions to the Citizens’ Enquiries Unit (Ask EP)! We reply in the EU language that you use to write to us.

Related Articles

Be the first to write a comment.

Leave a Reply