Daphne’s law: EU’s Media Freedom Act inspired by visit to Caruana Galizia memorial service, says Jourová

‘Taxpayer money should not distort the media landscape’

 

European Commission Vice-President Věra Jourová drew her inspiration to work on legislation leading to the drafting of the EU’s new Media Freedom Act to protect the European press from a visit to a memorial service for Daphne Caruana Galizia in Bidnija.

Jourová made the remark on Thursday at a roundtable event that debated the recent proposal for a Media Freedom Act, which aims to better protect media pluralism, editorial independence and journalistic freedom across the whole of Europe.

“The Media Freedom Act is an essential step forward toward protecting the press, in Malta and in Europe. My colleagues and I have long been calling for this,” she said.

In April, Jourová presented a proposal for what she called ‘Daphne’s law’, a directive to combat strategic lawsuits against public participation across Europe. The Media Freedom Act was the next stage in bolstering press protection in Europe.

Maltese MEP David Casa, Co-Chair of the Media Working Group of the European Parliament, co-hosted the event along with Co-Chair and Renew MEP Ramona Strugariu and S&D MEP Massimiliano Smeriglio.

“The press in Europe is at risk everywhere,” Casa said at the roundtable, referring to the results of the 2022 Media Pluralism Monitor. “Malta was deemed to be at high risk for editorial independence and political interference.

“It is not a healthy situation for our press or our democracy.”

Casa observed how the draft regulation will see formal requirements for editorial independence, and mandatory transparency in the way taxpayer money is used, to fund the media.

This, he said, includes public expenditure on advertising.

“Imbalanced and opaque funding can distort the media landscape, having a detrimental impact on information flow,” Casa warned.

Vice-President Jourová answered questions from academics, journalists, and MEPs advocating for more transparency and a more harmonised internal market for the media.

The event also saw the participation of the Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom, based at the European University Institute, represented by director Pier Luigi Parcu and scientific coordinator Elda Brogi.

                           
                           
                               
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