In the wake of the horrific assassinations of journalists Daphne Caruana Galizia and Jan Kuciak, MEPs in the Committee of Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs decided to allocate European funding specifically to support investigative journalism within the European Union.
Maltese MEP Roberta Metsola, who is also EPP Group Coordinator within the committee, welcomed the vote saying “journalists are the gatekeepers of any democratic society and they are under pressure. We need journalists to separate fact from fiction – a strong press leads to a strong democracy, where the values of truth and accountability persist.”
She addd that funding is particularly important for smaller media houses who are often faced with SLAPP lawsuits and vexatious claims designed to shut them down.
“I promised that I would work on pushing new funding streams to support journalists and that is what we achieved today.”
The funds will implement a pilot project across the EU following the assassinations of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta and Ján Kuciak in Slovakia.
The project has two main objectives: financially supporting investigative journalism and the direct support and protection of exposed journalists.
A permanent fund will be created to support independent investigative journalists, with the aim of helping the journalists face potential legal proceedings, move between borders and maintain financial independence.
Metsola said the European Parliament recognises that quality investigative journalism requires proper tools and resources in order to expose wrongdoing throughout the Union.
“This is why both news rooms and freelance journalists would be able to apply for a grant from this permanent fund.”
The applications will be reviewed by a joint team of European Commission members, journalists, and other field experts.
Additionally, the support and protection of investigative journalists will be addressed by the creation of a pan-European rapid response mechanism. Through direct collaboration with European, regional and local stakeholders, this mechanism will provide direct support such as advice, legal aid and shelter to journalists under threat.
The funds will now have to be confirmed by a vote from all MEPs in the coming weeks.