The European Commission has launched a program that it hopes will help improve the safety and security of journalists in the EU.
It was launched by Commissioner Vera Jourova, Vice-President for Values and Transparency at the European Commission.
In a statement she said:
“The assassinations of investigative journalists Daphne Caruana Galizia and Ján Kuciak should have been a wake-up call for the European Union. However, the threats and attacks against journalists are increasing, they are threats and attacks against democracy as a whole. For the first time ever, the Commission is working on an initiative dedicated to the safety of journalists which should bring tangible improvements on the ground.”
Thierry Breton, Internal Market Commissioner added: “Media freedom cannot be taken for granted, we must actively defend it, especially in the digital age and the increased risk of online attacks. We must ensure that journalists can play their crucial role in our democracies by ensuring that they work in complete safety. Today we are launching a debate on how to increase their protection, facilitate their cooperation and help them acquire the required digital skills.”
At this stage, the initiative will comprise dialogue between journalists and their associations, news media companies, representatives of media councils, the European Parliament, Member States, regulatory authorities as well as international partners.
The dialogue will continue until 25 March in the framework of the European News Media Forum. This is an essential step in the development of the Commission’s recommendation to the Member States to ensure the protection of journalists (online and offline) and to tackle gender-based and minority-based attacks in the EU which will be presented later this year.
The forum and recommendation are part of a broader set of initiatives to address threats to media freedom and pluralism in the EU, as announced in the Action Plan for European democracy and for journalists in particular, with an initiative aimed at curbing abusive use of SLAPP or “gag lawsuits”. This plan goes hand in hand with the action plan to support the revival and transformation of the media and audiovisual sectors in the EU.