European Federation of Journalists

Urgent call to secure financial support for journalism and media literacy in EU budget

Picture credit: Kenzo Tribouillard / AFP.

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) together with 16 press freedom, journalists, media literacy and media development organisations sent a letter to the German presidency of the Council of the European Union in light of the ongoing discussion on the EU budget and the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for 2021-2027. The MMF covers the Creative Europe budget which includes support for independent media and journalism. The coalition likewise wrote to the European Parliament’s Budget Commission and to EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn responsible for Budget and Administration.

The MFF regulation is adopted under a special legislative procedure, which requires unanimity to secure a deal in the Council and the consent of the European Parliament to conclude the decision-making process.

The letter reads:


Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas

Minister of State for Europe, Michael Roth

Minister of State for Culture and Media Monika Grütters

State Secretary Miguel Berger

EU Ambassador Michael Clauss

23 September 2020

Dear Minister Grütters,

Dear Minister Maas,

Dear Minister Roth,

Dear State Secretary Berger,

Dear Ambassador Clauss,

We, a coalition of journalists’ federations, press freedom, media literacy, journalism support, and media development organisations, have closely followed the German Presidency’s work priorities in these difficult times with particular scrutiny on support for media freedom and pluralism, the rule of law, hate speech, and the fight against disinformation. We appreciate the commitment of Minister Grütters at the beginning of September in the European Parliament to ensure that managing the COVID-19 consequences for culture and media is a priority for the EU in the coming months.

In the context of the trilateral talks between the Council, the European Commission, and the European Parliament’s negotiators, we wish to draw your attention to two important issues not only for our sector but for the European democracies we wish to uphold or improve:

  1. The Creative Europe budget must be strengthened, and the portion dedicated to support for media pluralism including technological and structural changes in the news industry, independent and professional journalism, and media literacy should be increased. As you know, the state of play of independent media has become extremely fragile throughout the EU, and news deserts – in particular at the local level – are threatening our democracies. The Media Pluralism Monitor (MPM) 2020 indicates that market plurality is at significant risk, signalling the growing economic threats to media pluralism in Europe. We therefore urgently need EU-funded projects to support cross-border (investigative), innovative, and local journalism, media literacy projects, the continued valuable monitoring of attacks against journalists, as well as the Media Pluralism Monitor.

  2. The allocation and payments of EU funds should be made conditional on their respect for and compliance with the rule of law, as we believe it will be a strong leverage to address the worrying state of media freedom and pluralism in the EU, strengthen the EU Rule of Law Mechanism and overcome the limits of the Article7 procedure.

We therefore reiterate our request to you to support our call to EU Member States to adopt an ambitious MFF, which will strengthen the media sector and support independent journalism. The proposed budget of the Justice and Rights and Values programmes should also be increased, as these programmes will be imperative to supporting independent journalism.

As you are certainly aware, due to the pandemic, the financial situation of the EU’s media sector has deteriorated with certainly unprecedented consequences.

This is a historic moment in Europe and we appreciate the Presidency’s efforts to set the EU’s path in the right direction.

We remain at your disposal for more information and expertise on media freedom in Europe.

Yours sincerely,

  • Renate Schroeder, Director, European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
  • Barbara Trionfi, Executive Director, International Press Institute (IPI)
  • Leon Willems, Director Policy & Programmes, Free Press Unlimited (FPU)
  • Lutz Kinkel, Managing Director, European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
  • Mira Milosevic, Executive Director, Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD)
  • Christophe Deloire, Secretary-General, Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
  • Camille Eiss, Chief of Global Partnerships and Policy, Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP)
  • Chiara Sighele, Project Director, Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT)
  • David Quin, Managing Director, Thomson Media gGmbH
  • Giovanni Melogli, EU Affairs Manager, Alliance Internationale de Journalistes (AIJ) & President, European Media Initiative (EMI)
  • Juliane von Reppert-Bismarck, CEO, Lie Detectors
  • Milica Pesic, Executive Director, Media Diversity Institute (MDI)
  • Oliver Vujovic, Secretary General, South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)
  • Otmar Lahodynsky, President, and Lieven Taillie, Brussels Special Representative, Association of European Journalists (AEJ)
  • Jessica Ní Mhainín, Senior Policy Research and Advocacy Officer, Index on Censorship
  • Pierre François DOCQUIR, Head of Media Freedom, ARTICLE 19
  • Maria Laura Franciosi,