The European Unions High Representative Josep Borrell has paid tribute to the essential role of journalism in upholding online and offline freedom of expression in democratic societies.
In a statement released on World Press Freedom Day, he stated how the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the importance of the media due to the need for reliable, fact-checked information that is free from undue interference and influence.
He said it is “crucial” and contributes to a more resilient society. Borrell raised concerns that the pandemic is being used as an excuse in some countries as a pretext for imposing undue restrictions on freedom of the press.
“Despite the additional risks and challenges arising from COVID-19 pandemic, journalists and media workers all over the world are continuing their essential work, sometimes in difficult circumstances. They are giving a voice to the most vulnerable, making sure their stories are heard. They are bringing testimonies from less accessible areas, including conflict zones. They are providing essential information about the often devastating impact of the pandemic in different parts of the world as well as uplifting stories of solidarity and courage,” he said.
Borrell said that journalists help to detect and counter misinformation and contribute to safer, fairer and more democratic societies.
He reaffirmed the EU’s continued support for the role of independent and reliable media around the world, concluding that “Press freedom is a right, not just of media professionals, but of each and every one of us.”
The statement was tweeted by EU Ambassador to Albania, Luigi Soreca. He added that he supports the role of independent and reliable media and Albania.
1/2 On #WorldPressFreedomDay, read ⬇️ HRVP @JosepBorrellF🇪🇺Declaration on behalf of the #EU.
We strongly reaffirm our continued support for the key role of independent & reliable media in #Albania🇦🇱and around the world. Press freedom is a right which ..https://t.co/guoemX2Kl0
— Luigi Soreca🇪🇺 (@LSorecaEU) May 3, 2020
Soreca commended journalists and media workers that continued to work during difficult circumstances relating to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Regarding the Albanian government plan to introduce restrictive media freedom laws, Soreca has previously stated he supports self-regulation and that the government must align with EU and CoE best practices.