‘No Member State is immune to media freedom and pluralism threats’ – Věra Jourová

The Media Freedom Act will be the legacy of Jan Kuciak, Daphne Caruana Galizia and all those who have sacrificed their lives for media freedom, said Věra Jourová, the Vice President of the European Commission for Values and Transparency.

In her speech to mark the opening of the Mapping Media Freedom Rapid Response 2023 Summit, Jourová underscored how media freedom and the safety of journalists remain top priorities for the European Commission and praised the work of the MFRR that “has recorded more than 800 media freedom violations in 2022 for the whole region” adding that “more than half came from Member States.”

Jourová also outlines the initiatives currently being undertaken by the European Commission, including the Commission’s adoption of the recommendation to the Member States on ensuring the protection, safety and empowerment of journalists and other media professionals in the European Union.

European Commission Vice President Věra Jourová addressing the MFRR 2023 Summit online

This spring, Member States will need to report back to the Commission on the work done so that it may take stock of the progress achieved by the Member States, and this will feed into the Commission’s annual Rule of Law report, which will be published in the summer, Jourová said.

“The rich and powerful sometimes abuse the law to entangle journalists in long, expensive legal proceedings. They want to shut them up and create a chilling effect…” Jourová said, describing the Commission’s work on Anti-SLAPP legislation (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) while remembering Daphne Caruana Galizia, who had 47 such abusive lawsuits at the time of her assassination.

The Commission’s proposed legislation is currently being debated at the EU Council under the auspices of the Swedish presidency. Sweden’s proposed changes have garnered strong criticism from several press freedom organisations that described them as self-defeating” and added that they “run contrary to the purpose of the anti-SLAPP Directive and undermine its spirit”.

Jourová also describes how the European Commission “broke new ground” with the European Media Freedom Act (EMFA), noting how this proposal “includes common safeguards to protect media pluralism and the editorial independence of the media” and that “it will protect the independence of public service media which should be about the interest of citizens, not the government”, Jourova underscored.

Jourova ends by saying that during her visit to Slovakia to mark the 5th anniversary of the assassination of Ján Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová she said that the EMFA “could be called the Kuciak act,” adding that “it will be the legacy of Jan, Martina, Daphne and all those who have sacrificed their lives for media freedom”.  “We owe this to them, to them, to their families and colleagues,” Jourova concludes.

The MFRR Summit 2023 edition will take place online from the 29 to 31 March. The conference, “Press Freedom On The Line”, will focus on safety, media capture, the rule of law, and SLAPPs, the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR)’s main campaign areas.

The Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) project, launched in 2020 and funded by the European Commission, tracks, monitors, and reacts to press and media freedom violations in EU Member States and Candidate Countries. The project also provides legal and practical support, public advocacy, and information to protect journalists and media workers.

The MFRR is organised by an alliance led by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), including ARTICLE 19 Europe, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Free Press Unlimited (FPU), International Press Institute (IPI) and CCI/Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso Transeuropa (OBC Transeuropa).


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