24 Nov, 2020

Renew Europe calls for strengthened media freedom and pluralism in Europe

Media freedom is a core pillar of democracy, but Renew Europe MEPs are deeply concerned at how it is being threatened, undermined, or limited in some EU Member States.

The protection of journalists as well as combatting disinformation and hate speech online are key priorities for Renew Europe. In the plenary session of 23 November, MEPs will debate how to strengthen media freedom in Europe. Relating to the debate is a report from the Committee of Civil Liberties, which touches the topics of media pluralism, disinformation, the conditions under which journalists are conducting their work, as well as the responsibility of platform in today's media landscape.

The Renew Europe Group is pleased that the report widely reflects Renew Europe's standpoints, such as the request for proportional measures to combat disinformation, an EU-wide Anti-SLAPP directive and to uphold editorial independence within media outlets.

The report also proposes specific actions concerning the COVID-19 pandemic, such as temporary crisis aid for independent media in countries where the economic impact of the pandemic jeopardises a pluralist media landscape. MEPs will vote on the report on 25 November, and there is hope for broad support in plenary. 

Ramona Strugariu MEP, member of Committee on Civil Liberties and Renew Europe's shadow on the file, comments: 

Media freedom and media pluralism are fundamental pillars of a functioning democracy. At the same time, combatting disinformation and hate speech, as well as cooperating with and providing clear rules for the functioning of online platforms are key elements for safeguarding media freedom. Journalists and media professionals are facing great challenges, generated by digitalisation, economic transformation and the COVID-19 crisis, but are also facing multiple threats, including against their physical integrity. 

With the adoption of this own initiative Report, the European Parliament sends a clear message to the Commission, calling for concrete answers to these challenges. It is time that we have dedicated and appropriate EU funding mechanisms for journalists, a rapid response mechanism for the protection of journalists in distress, as well as clear legislation ending abusive practices against media professionals. The freedom of expression and the freedom of information cannot be compromised.   

The best indicator of a healthy democracy is a strong and independent press and I am confident that this report comes at a very good time to signal this message.”

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