CoE’s Recommendation represents a significant milestone in the fight against SLAPPs

The Coalition Against SLAPPs in Europe (CASE), of which the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) is a member, issued a statement welcoming the adoption of the Recommendation on countering the use of SLAPPs by the Council of Europe (CoE) on 5 April 2024. Although there is still room for improvement, the Recommendation is an important step in the protection of press freedom, guaranteeing journalists a safer environment, free from fear and intimidation. The Recommendation establishes robust standards that Member States must meet in order to ensure compliance with their human rights obligations. This Recommendation could help guide EU Member States as…

Feature: A European Media Freedom Act worthy of its name?

EFJ Director Renate Schroeder wrote about the European Media Freedom Act in an article originally published in Social Europe. Read the article in its entirety here:  Amid a sea of online misinformation, in a ‘polycrisis’ world reliable public-interest journalism has never been more essential. Today, the sustainability of free media is threatened in many European Union countries. Pluralism is lacking, with the rise of the platforms to information monopolies accelerating the shrinkage of the space for independent and public-interest journalism. Media are increasingly captured and controlled by politicians—or subjected to ‘fake news’ smears in the style of the former United…

EMFA: EU Member States show dangerous disregard for media freedom principles

EU governments want to authorise the spying of journalists and their sources on vague grounds of “national security”. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) strongly rejects the position of the EU Council on the European Media Freedom Act (EMFA) and denounces a blow to media freedom, arguing that such legislation would put journalists and their sources even more at risk. The Council reached today, 21 June 2023, an agreement on the much-needed European Media Freedom Act, a legislation proposed by the European Commission on 16 September 2022 with the intention to introduce safeguards against political interference, media concentration, and to…

EU Member States should not use national security as a pretext to weaken the Media Freedom Act

The latest draft compromise text of the EU Council on the European Media Freedom Act poses serious risks to the European Union’s core democratic principles and fundamental rights, notably freedom of expression and the protection of journalists. The European Federation of Journalists reiterates its call to EU Member States to strengthen Article 4 on the rights of media service providers. The text is due to be adopted on 21 June. In its latest appeal on 2 May the EFJ together with all European major broadcasting and publishers organisations had urged Member States to show more ambition on Article 4 (about…

EMFA: Member States must ensure effective protection of sources

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) joined European organisations, representing thousands of media outlets, journalists and all other media workers across the EU, in calling on Member States to ensure effective protection of sources in the proposed European Media Freedom Act (EMFA). While we welcome the intentions of Article 4, which “aims to guarantee that journalists and editors can work without interference, including when it comes to protecting their sources and communications”, we consider the protections foreseen in the Commission’s draft to be insufficient to effectively shield journalists from undue interference, prohibit surveillance of journalists and protect journalistic sources and…

The Coalition Against SLAPPs in Europe adopted Declaration at first European conference

On the occasion of the first European Anti-SLAPP Conference on 20 October 2022, the Coalition Against SLAPPs in Europe (CASE), of which the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) is a member, adopted a declaration calling on governments across Europe to take immediate legislative and practical action to protect journalists and other public watchdogs from the growing threat of Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs). The first European Anti-SLAPP conference took place in Strasbourg (France) and was opened by Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament, Vera Jourova, Vice-President of the European Commission, Marija Pejčinović Burić, Secretary General of the Council…

EFJ welcomes European Media Freedom Act but calls for strengthening

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) today joins the undersigned journalists’, media freedom, and human rights organisations in welcoming the European Commission’s initiative to strengthen the free and pluralistic media system and the commitment to protect journalists and editorial independence within the European Union. The EFJ and media freedom groups also stress need for improvements. These values directly link to fundamental rights, such as freedom of expression, the right to access to information, the formation of opinion, and making informed choices in elections, as enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Matters relating to the media have traditionally been the…

The European Media Freedom Act must protect media from capture by political forces

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) is co-signing together with other civil society organisations a policy brief on the upcoming European Media Freedom Act (EMFA), as the European Commission is currently finalising the draft proposal. We thank the European Commission for taking on this task and the ambition it has to deal with fundamental threats to Europe’s media landscape. We take this opportunity, as a coalition of journalists, media freedom groups and human rights groups, to develop our statement of 9th May and to address issues around the European single market, media ownership and transparency of economic relations with the…

EFJ warns that EU legislation to prevent child abuse online would undermine protection of journalistic sources

The European Commission published on 11 May a proposal to fight against child sexual abuse online. According to the draft regulation, messaging applications would be required to scan all private communications, including encrypted messages. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) is concerned that the legislation could jeopardise the fundamental protection of journalistic sources. The European Commission’s proposal requires providers of electronic communications services “to detect, report and remove” child sexual abuse on the internet on both “public-facing” and “private interpersonal” communications services. According to the European Digital Rights (EDRi), the automatic scanning of everyone’s private communications is disproportionate and interferes with the right to…

Open letter: Protecting digital rights and freedoms in future legislation to tackle child abuse

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) joined EDRi and 46 civil society organisations in jointly raising voices to the European Commission to demand that the forthcoming EU on ‘Legislation to effectively tackle child sexual abuse’ complies with EU fundamental rights and freedoms. Tackling the online dissemination of child sexual abuse and exploitation material (CSAM) is an important part of the broader global fight to protect young people from sexual abuse and exploitation. In particular, this fight requires a comprehensive approach by governments and companies to prevent such egregious crimes before they happen. In the context of the upcoming EU legislation to…

Europe Day: Open Letter to European Commissioners for a strong Media Freedom Act

On the occasion of Europe Day 2022, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) joined 16 journalists, human rights and press freedom organisations in reiterating the vital role of a free, independent and pluralistic media in safeguarding Europe’s values. The upcoming European Media Freedom Act (EMFA) is a unique opportunity to tackle the threat of media capture, ensure media financial sustainability in Europe and build a robust and resilient media ecosystem across member states. With this letter, the undersigned organisations urged the European Commission to take an ambitious approach to the EMFA to help counter the increasing threats to media freedom,…

Digital Services Act: EU agreement reached

On 23 April, European Union co-legislators (European Commission, European Parliament and the Council of Ministers – national governments) reached a provisional agreement on the Digital Services Act (DSA), a new set of rules for online platforms, search engines, online marketplaces and other significant providers of digital services. The DSA will fully enter into force in the first quarter of 2024, and for very large online platforms already four months after the publication of the final text in the EU official journal. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) welcomed this agreement as an indeed overdue set of regulation to nail down…

EFJ contribution to the European Media Freedom Act

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) has submitted its contribution to the European Commission’sPublic consultation for the European Media Freedom Act (EMFA) on 24 March 2022. The EFJ has welcomed the initiative as an overdue action to reconcile unprecedented threats against independent journalism and media including politicisation, such as so-called state capture, lack of transparency in media ownership, increased threats on independent public service and unfair allocation of state funding. The questions include the important issue of self-regulation, the work of media authorities but also the need to create an enabling environment for media. The EMFA proposal aims to increase…

​Policy paper: How the EU can protect public watchdogs from abusive lawsuits

The Coalition Against SLAPPs in Europe (CASE), which reunites journalists, press freedom, and other rights groups – including the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) – has been advocating for an EU anti-SLAPP directive for two years. As part of the public consultation launched by the European Commission, the CASE coalition has submitted the following policy paper to inform the upcoming EU initiative. Accessible here, the paper explains what SLAPPs are, provides preliminary and previously unpublished data from CASE research on SLAPPs mapping in Europe and sets out recommendations on what governments and the EU should do tackle the problem. Here…

EU Digital Services Act: journalistic content must be protected from interference by online platforms

Updated (03/12/2021) The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) welcomed the proposed EU Digital Services Act as a long overdue and crucial tool to create a safer, fairer and more accountable online environment. The journalists’ community believes that the DSA must be stronger in order to guarantee a digital media ecosystem based on trust and audience engagement, in particular in the fight against disinformation. Today the platforms determine who sees when and what – based on their content recommendation systems, algorithms and terms and conditions. The power of the big platforms and gatekeepers has contributed to the market failure we face…

EU Rule of Law report: Little bark, no bite

On 20 July, the European Commission published the 2021 Rule of Law Report. The document, which is the outcome of months of painstaking work, can be a valuable tool that empowers civil society, the EU institutions and Member State governments who care about the rule of law in the Union. The Report, comprised of a Communication that covers EU-wide developments and country chapters for each Member State, is designed “as a yearly cycle to promote the rule of law and to prevent problems from emerging or deepening and to address them … It seeks to strengthen the rule of law in…

Our submission for the European Commission Recommendations on the Safety of Journalists

Following the European News Media Forum, the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), including the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), drafted a submission to the European Commission as part of their proposed Recommendations on the Safety of Journalists. The EFJ contributed to the MFRR submission (see PDF below) providing information and recommendations to the European Commission concerning the safety of journalists and media workers. This will feed into a recommendation to the Member States announced in the European Democracy Action Plan, which will seek to ensure better and targeted implementation of a number of requirements set out in the Council of…