17 Apr Safeguarding media freedom and pluralism through the European Rule of Law Mechanism: two GR consortium members sign the letter
24 civil society organizations have signed a letter and joint recommendations on how to effectively safeguard media freedom and pluralism through the European Rule of Law Mechanism.
Among the organizations that signed the call sent to the EU Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, and Vice President for Transparency & Values, Věra Jourová, there are also ActiveWatch and the Association Mondiale des Radiodiffuseurs Communautaires Europe (AMARC Europe), two active members of the Grassroots Radio consortium.
The letter aims to urge the European Commission (EC) to implement an effective European Rule of Law Mechanism in order to uphold press freedom and media pluralism and leading to concrete improvements for journalists and the media sector. The launch of the European Rule of Law Mechanism in July 2019 marks the renewed opportunity for the European Union (EU) to uphold democracy and overcome the limits of the Article 7 procedure. Among the proposed actions for the EC, there is a dedicated chapter to media freedom and pluralism in the Annual Rule of Law Report, which was strongly welcomed by press freedom and journalists’ organisations. It is not only the acknowledgment that independent journalism and access to pluralistic information are one of the pillars of democracy, but also a key step in addressing the worrying state of media freedom and pluralism in the EU.
The call emphasizes the constant threatens under which journalists in EU area are working as well as the risk of a democratic deficit that extreme and unpredictable events – such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic – can generate:
The killings of Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta and Ján Kuciak in Slovakia shed light on the numerous threats faced by journalists within EU member states. Journalists are daily exposed to censorship, intimidation, online and offline harassment, abusive lawsuits and physical violence for doing their work and exercising their fundamental right to freedom of expression. In parallel, media capture by states and ownership concentration by private actors pose a huge threat to media pluralism, in a broader context where the media sector struggles for its financial sustainability. This has a chilling effect on press freedom and endangers citizens’ right to information. As the COVID-19 crisis is being used by some governments to curtail rule of law principles, access to information is essential for the public’s right to know. This crisis also illustrates the crucial need for safe working conditions for journalists and an independent, pluralistic and sustainable media sector.
Four recommendations accompany the call:
- Assessing the timeliness of the Annual Rule of Law Report.
- Strengthening the Mechanism with country-specific recommendations, developing effective responses and establishing a sanction system.
- Reflecting individuals, voices and diversity in the Annual Rule of Law Report.
- Ensuring the Annual Rule of Law Report effectively captures the challenges faced by journalists and the media sector.
The full text of the call is available here.