EU calls for more action to support free and independent media on World Press Freedom Day

On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day today, the Commission reiterates its commitment to support media freedom and pluralism, in the EU and beyond. Journalists should be able to work freely and safely – this lies at the heart of EU values and democracies. Journalists have been facing an increasing number of attacks over the past years. This is why the European Commission has taken concrete action and has made the protection of journalists one of the key elements of our media legislation, some of which are already entering into force next week.

On Monday, 6 May, the new rules against Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) will enter into force, providing journalists and human rights defenders with tools to fight back against abusive court proceedings. On Tuesday, 7 May, the European Media Freedom Act will also enter into force, bringing additional safeguards on editorial independence, media pluralism, transparency and fairness and better cooperation of media authorities through a new European Media Board. These initiatives are part of a comprehensive European strategy for the media, building on the European Democracy Action Plan and the Media and Audiovisual Action Plan (MAAP). Furthermore, today the Commission has published a study, showing progress in EU Member States to implement the Commission’s Recommendation on the protection, safety and empowerment of journalists.

Vice-President for Values and Transparency, Věra Jourová, said: “Today we pay tribute to all the journalists and media workers who inform us, sometimes at the risk of their lives. It is the duty of democracies to protect them. In the EU, we passed unprecedented laws, with the Media Freedom Act and a Directive to fight abusive litigation against journalists. We call on Member States to implement these rules as soon as possible. The Commission will continue its efforts to help address the challenges that the media are facing, including when it comes to the economic sustainability of the media sector”. Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton, added: “Ensuring that journalists can carry out their work in a healthy media landscape is vital for our democracies. With the Media Freedom Act entering into force next week, this World Press Freedom Day finds the EU better equipped than ever with an impressive toolbox for upholding media independence and pluralism.”  Yesterday, High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell issued a declaration on behalf of the EU.