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EuropePress freedom: the European Parliament in support of journalists

Press freedom: the European Parliament in support of journalists

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Press freedom is under pressure in the EU and across the world. Find out how the European Parliament supports the work of journalists.

Journalism is facing more and more challenges, as new digital channels are exploited to spread disinformation in an increasingly divided world. While Europe remains the most secure continent for journalists and media freedom, there have been attacks and intimidation in some countries while Russia’s war against Ukraine makes things even worse.

On the occasion of the Press Freedom Day on 3 May, MEPs held a plenary debate in Strasbourg where they expressed concern about the increasing attacks on journalists and stressed that free press is essential for democracy to function.

Parliament President Roberta Metsola said in a short statement before the debate: “Journalists should never have to choose between uncovering the truth and staying alive. They should never be forced to spend years and savings to argue against vexatious law-suits… A strong democracy needs a strong press.”

The role of the European Parliament in protecting free press

The European Parliament has repeatedly advocated for press freedom and media pluralism in the EU and beyond.

In November 2021, Parliament adopted a resolution on strengthening media freedom and pluralism in the EU and called for new rules to protect journalists from being silenced. MEPs acknowledge that the new digital environment has exacerbated the problem of the spread of disinformation.

In another report adopted in March 2022, Parliament’s special committee on foreign interference in the EU urged the EU to create a common strategy to face foreign interference and disinformation campaigns and called for more support to independent media, fact checkers and researchers.

On 27 April 2022, the European Commission announced a proposal to tackle malicious litigation against journalists and activists and has committed to present a European Media Freedom Act in autumn.

Recently MEPs have also denounced the increasing repression of critical voices and attacks against journalists in Mexico, Poland and Russia.

On 3 May 2022, Parliament launched the second edition of the Daphne Caruana Galizia Prize for Journalism, in memory of the Maltese journalist killed in a bomb attack in 2017, to reward outstanding journalism reflecting EU values. In April, it announced a new scholarship scheme and training programmes for young journalists, expected to start by the end of the year.

Freedom of expression, media freedom and pluralism are enshrined in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, as well as in the European Convention on Human Rights.

The challenges for journalism in Europe

The situation in most EU countries is good, however in a resolution on media freedom in 2020 MEPs expressed concern about the state of public service media in some EU countries, stressing that media freedom, pluralism, independence and the safety of journalists are crucial components of the right to freedom of expression and information, and are essential to the democratic functioning of the EU.

However, there have been attacks on journalists across the EU. Greek journalist George Karaivaz was shot dead in Athens in April 2021 and Dutch investigative journalist Peter R. de Vries was killed in Amsterdam in July 2021.

The war in Ukraine has also been deadly for journalists. UN data from early May shows that seven journalists were killed since Russia’s invasion in Ukraine in February 2022.

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