European Federation of Journalists

EFJ welcomes EU Media Action Plan and urges to include support for freelancers

Picture credit: Johanna Geron / Pool / AFP.

On 3 December, the European Commission adopted the communication Europe’s Media in the Digital Decade: An Action Plan to Support Recovery and Transformation. The Action Plan focuses on three areas of activity in the media and audiovisual sector and 10 concrete actions, to help the media sector recover from the crisis by facilitating and broadening access to financial support, by encouraging investments for the  digital transformation all on the basis that the media and news sector are not only economical but public goods central for Europe’s democracies

“We are committed to help the media sector weather the current storm and challenges brought by the crisis, and to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by the digital transformation in both the short-term and long-term,” said EC vice-president Margrethe Vestager.

Under the Recovery and Resilience Facility, each National Recovery and Resilience Plan will earmark a minimum level of 20% of expenditure for digital. Measures to boost the production and distribution of digital content, such as digital media, will count towards this target and are specially mentioned to urge Member States to not neglect this important sector. In addition, the Action Plan aims to:

  • 1) Facilitate access to EU support via a dedicated tool for media companies to find all relevant EU funding opportunities for them. This will offer guidance on how to apply for relevant EU support, in the context of the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework, but also through national recovery and resilience plans;
  • 2) Boost investment in the audiovisual industry via a new initiative MEDIA INVEST whose target is to leverage investments of €400 million over a 7-year period;
  • 3) Launch a “NEWS” initiative to bundle actions and support for the news media sector. The initiative includes a pilot NEWS invest project with foundations and other private partners, access to loans to be backed by the InvestEU guarantee, grants, and a European News Media Forum with the sector. Particular attention will be paid to local media.

The Action Plan also seeks to support the green and digital transformation of the sector with three specific action points including data sharing and innovation; a European Virtual and Augmented Reality and actions for a green climate neutral transformation.

The last 4 action points deal more with the urgent need to empower citizens, to become more media literate, to put audience engagement, diversity, the support of small media start-ups and alternative news aggregation into the center of much needed media reform.

“We have welcomed the European Democracy Action Plan, and of course we very much welcome this ambitious and urgent media action plan for our ever more fragile digital media eco-systems, said EFJ President Mogens Blicher Bjerregård. We told the European Commission that the support for local media is urgent, but also the support for freelance journalists who are possibly the most innovative story tellers and irreplaceable in any newsroom. They deserve financial support, training and inclusion in all of the different projects the Commission is proposing in its 10 concrete actions. Now we all have to lobby our national governments to indeed put media innovation and support as a priority of the 20% for digital in the national recovery plans, once they have been adopted.”

This Action plan is also fully aligned with the Commission’s upcoming proposals on the Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act, which will aim at modernising the legal framework applicable to digital services in the EU and be published tomorrow

Next steps

As the European Commission has realised the urgency for support for the EU media sector, most of the actions outlined in the Action Plan will be launched already in the first months of 2021. Consultations with stakeholders will be carried out to best implement the actions on the ground. The European Federation of Journalist (EFJ) will be invited to the European News Media Forum covering both issues of safety of journalists and the more industrial support for media including local news.