Press freedom organisations call on the EU to safeguard the rule of law and media pluralism

17 April 2020

24 journalists’ associations and media and press freedom organisations, including The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation, have presented recommendations to the European Commission on the Rule of Law Mechanism and Annual Report process. The recommendations are aimed at making the process strong, timely, inclusive and representative of the challenges faced by journalists and the media sector at a time of deteriorating press freedom across the EU.

The assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta and Ján Kuciak in Slovakia sharply highlighted the threats that journalists face. Censorship, intimidation, online and offline harassment, abusive lawsuits and physical violence, together with ownership concentration and state capture of media, have a chilling effect on press freedom and threaten citizens’ right to know. As the COVID-19 crisis takes hold, some governments have curtailed rule of law principles, further restricting free expression and access to information.

As independent journalism and access to pluralistic information are one of the pillars of democracy, ensuring safe working conditions for journalists and an independent, pluralistic and sustainable media sector are now critical. Integrating the proposed recommendations in the Rule of Law Mechanism and Annual Report process will shore up press freedom and media pluralism across the EU, leading to concrete improvements for journalists and the media sector.

Main recommendations

  1. Only releasing the Annual Rule of Law Report when it provides high-quality content and assesses the emergency measures taken in 2020 in the context of the COVID-19 crisis and their impact on press freedom and the rule of law.
  2. Accompanying the European Rule of Law Mechanism and the report with country-specific recommendations and sanctions for serious and systematic breaches of the rule of law.
  3. Ensuring the voices of journalists, judges and other rule of law defenders are consulted and reflected in the Annual Rule of Law Report.
  4. Ensuring the Annual Rule of Law Report effectively captures the challenges faced by journalists and the media sector.

Signatory organisations

  • ActiveWatch
  • AMARC Europe - Association Mondiale des Radiodiffuseurs Communautaires Europe
  • Archiwum Osiatyńskiego
  • ARTICLE 19
  • Budapest Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
  • Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
  • The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation
  • DW Akademie
  • European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
  • European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
  • Free Press Unlimited (FPU)
  • Gazeta Wyborcza Foundation
  • Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD)
  • Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU)
  • IFEX
  • International Press Institute (IPI)
  • Media Diversity Institute (MDI)
  • Netherlands Helsinki Committee (NHC)
  • Norsk PEN
  • PEN International
  • Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
  • South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)
  • South East European Network for Professionalization of Media (SEENPM)
  • Stichting Democracy & Media