The European Parliament is deeply concerned about the state of media freedom within the EU and condemns the pressure and violence against journalists.
In a resolution upheld by 553 votes in favour, parliament condemns attempts by individual member states to reduce coverage of critical and independent media, reduce pluralism and media freedom. According to a press release of the EP, European deputies are primarily concerned about the media situation in some EU countries, where it becomes “a part of pro-government propaganda.”
MEPs emphasise that media freedom, independence, pluralism and journalist safety are integral components of freedom of expression and are vital to the democratic functioning in the EU.
MEPs see a “growing pattern of intimidation aimed at silencing journalists,” citing the murders of Daphne Caruana Galizia (Malta) and Ján Kuciak (Slovakia) and his fiancée as examples of the risks faced by investigative journalists. Parliamentarians demand from all public figures the refusal of slandering journalists and insist that crimes against journalists be investigated objectively and effectively. They emphasise that female journalists are particularly vulnerable and should be given additional protection.
MEPs also demanded that all EU member states take action to preserve media concentration in order to save property transparency. They affirm that the EU`s money can’t be used for political propaganda and government-controlled media.
Thereby the European Parliament calls on the European Commission to evaluate the media property’s transparency in every EU member state, and analyse the level of private and governmental impact in the sphere. This information must be included in the EC`s annual report on rule of law estimation. European deputies say that attempts to damage media freedom and pluralism must be considered as serious and permanent misfeasance, which goes against all the fundamental EU values.
Also, MEPs want to implement a more robust legal framework to prevent hate speech and the spreading of piracy online. They believe that law enforcement authorities and online platforms have to increase their level of cooperation. Deputies emphasise that voluntary actions of private companies (platforms) are crucial but insufficient to achieve the goal. That’s why private companies should not become private regulators. Deleting illegal content must be guaranteed in any case.
Furthermore, politicians are concerned about the spreading of disinformation that regards the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rapporteur Magdalena Adamowicz (EPP, Poland), stated, “Today, we witness democracy being withdrawn, power taken with lies. There is no freedom without media independence, no democracy without media pluralism. Media should serve the truth, not lies. It should serve voters, not those in power, and should be a check on power. Media should protect democracy, but the media can also kill it. That is why it must be independent.”