19 Sep, 2022

Jourová and Breton unveil the European Media Freedom Act

On 16 September, European Commission Vice-President for Values and Transparency Věra Jourová and Vice-President for Internal Market Thierry Breton presented the European Media Freedom Act (EMFA), the European Commission’s landmark legislation aiming to protect media and journalists from state influence and spying.

The EMFA will contribute to restore the trust in the media and in fight disinformation, including foreign interference, by:

  • protecting editorial independence – requiring Member States to respect the effective editorial freedom of media service providers and improve the protection of journalistic sources;
  • requiring transparency on media ownership, the allocation of state advertising and audience measurement systems;
  • and strengthening coordination of national media regulators by creating a new independent European Board for Media Services.

Jourová emphasized that democracy can only work if journalists are able to keep in check those with political and economic power.

“We need to establish clear principles: no journalist should be spied on because of their job; no public media should be turned into propaganda channel. This is what we propose today: common safeguards to protect media freedom and pluralism in the EU,” she added.

Breton highlighted the importance of the Act for the EU’s Single Market and the EU’s role to come out with a legal benchmark that will protect journalists and media: 

“The European Media Freedom Act provides common safeguards at EU level to guarantee a plurality of voices and that our media are able to operate without any interference, be it private or public.”

Information is not a good like any other. When faced with interferences under any form it is necessary to protect journalists and media pluralism. Europe must be an example,” he added.

Katalin Cseh MEP welcomed the EMFA:

“We, the liberals, are staunch defenders of freedom of expression. The European Media Freedom Act could not have been more urgent. In Hungary, we saw independent media being muzzled by the ruling party and a radio station taken off the air. Pro-Orbán outlets are number one of Russian propaganda disinformation spreaders on the war in Ukraine. EU-level action is needed to promote media pluralism and reduce concentration on media markets,” she said.

The Act constitutes one of the elements of the European Democracy Action Plan adopted by the European Commission in 2020 which has provided a framework for protection of media freedom and pluralism. The announcement of the Act comes right after the International Day of Democracy on 15 September, established by the United Nations in 2007, and celebrated worldwide.

In Europe and beyond, attacks on our democratic institutions and fundamental rights are spreading faster than ever. But we liberals will never stop fighting for democracy and freedom.

Photo credit: Christophe Licoppe, European Commission 2022

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