The EU Council Presidency’s draft compromise proposal for the European anti-SLAPP Directive is self-defeating. It runs contrary to the purpose of the anti-SLAPP Directive and undermines its spirit, and fails to meet the expectations of the European Parliament, the European Union’s most important democratic body.
The anti-SLAPP Directive that Vice-President Jourová proposed last April, informally known as “Daphne’s Law”, is the minimum anti-SLAPP protection that Member States should aim for, not a maximum limit. The draft compromise proposal eliminates several elements of the original anti-SLAPP Directive and weakens many of its other provisions.
To serve the public interest and protect the right to know across the EU, the Directive must cover cross-border cases and include effective anti-SLAPP protection measures, including stay of proceedings and early dismissal of SLAPPs, compensation for defendants’ damages, and penalties for SLAPP claimants, among other considerations. These provisions have been eliminated from the Swedish EU Council Presidency’s draft compromise proposal.
Prime Minister Robert Abela and Justice Minister Jonathan Attard have repeatedly said that the Maltese government will lead the way in introducing anti-SLAPP legislation. The government can now set a positive example for the rest of Europe by:
- writing to the Swedish Presidency of the EU Council by the deadline (COB 10th March 2023) to demand the reinstatement of the clauses and provisions that have been removed and the reversal of the damage done to the text, to bring it in line with the spirit of the original Directive;
- publicly committing to implementing anti-SLAPP legislation in Malta that sets an even higher standard than that proposed by the original anti-SLAPP Directive;
- advocating with fellow European Council members to do likewise.