In the context of growing threats to them journalists and, therefore, obstacles to freedom of expression and freedom of information, the Council of Ministers adopted conclusions on their protection and safety journalists and of professionals of the media, refers to a relevant announcement.
Member States call on the Commission to increase funding for independent and investigative journalism and to take into account online security and freedom of speech for journalists and other media professionals in all relevant initiatives arising from the EU digital strategy .
The Council recognizes that many journalists and other media professionals are not able to work freely and independently everywhere as they should. According to a report by the Council of Europe, the number of alerts to serious threats to the safety of journalists and media freedom in Europe has almost doubled since 2016 (the number of alerts in 2021 was 282).
In addition to threats to their security, the financial situation of journalists and other media professionals is also becoming increasingly precarious. The digital transformation, the closure of the media and the aftermath of the pandemic have led to a worsening of journalists’ financial insecurity.
Learning, international action and support for journalists
In its conclusions, the Council calls on the Member States and the Commission – inter alia, to:
* Encourage lifelong learning for newsroom managers, law enforcement, judges and other stakeholders on the protection of journalists and media professionals
* Commitment to working to protect journalists and other media professionals around the world in relatively multilateral forums, bilateral relations and international initiatives
* Support – for example through professional, financial, social and legal assistance – independent and exiled journalists and media professionals, especially from countries such as Ukraine, Belarus and the Russian Federation
Background and next steps
These conclusions adopted today are part of a wider set of initiatives. On 16 September 2021, the Commission submitted a recommendation directing Member States to take effective, appropriate and proportionate measures to ensure the protection, safety and empowerment of journalists. On 27 April, the Commission proposed an EU draft law to protect journalists and human rights defenders from abusive litigation (known as the SLAPP Directive). The Commission also plans to adopt a European law on media freedom in order to safeguard media pluralism and independence in the EU internal market.
Member States have also agreed to exchange best practices on the implementation of the measures and to take stock of the implementation of the conclusions in 2025.