Motion for a resolution - B7-0093/2009Motion for a resolution

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on freedom of information and media pluralism in Italy and in the European Union


to wind up the debate on the statement by the Commission
pursuant to Rule 110(2) of the Rules of Procedure

Monika Flašíková Beňová, Claude Moraes, David-Maria Sassoli on behalf of the S&D Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B7-0090/2009

Procedure : 2009/2688(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected :  
Texts tabled :
Debates :
Texts adopted :


European Parliament resolution on freedom of information and media pluralism in Italy and in the European Union

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Treaty on European Union and notably its articles relating to respect for and promotion and protection of fundamental rights, as well as Articles 22, 43, 49, 83, 87, 95 and 151 of the EC Treaty,

–   having regard to Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, concerning freedom of expression and information and the right to media pluralism,

–   having regard to Directive 2007/65/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2007 amending Council Directive 89/552/EEC on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the pursuit of television broadcasting activities,

­–   having regard to the Commission's working document on media pluralism in EU Member States (SEC(2007)0032),

–   having regard to the three-step approach to media pluralism defined by the Commission and to the independent study on pluralism indicators carried out by the Catholic University of Louvain – ICRI, the Central European University – CMCS and Jönköping International Business School – MMTC, together with a consultancy firm, Ernst & Young Belgium, on behalf of the Commission and finalised in 2009,

–   having regard to its Resolution of 25 September 2008 on concentration and pluralism in the media in the European Union[1],

–   having regard to its Resolution of 22 April 2004 on the risks of violation, in the European Union and especially in Italy, of freedom of expression and information[2],

–   having regard to the statements by the Commission and the debate held in the European Parliament on 8 October 2009,

–   having regard to Rule 110(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas the European Union guarantees and promotes freedom of expression and of information as enshrined in Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, for which media freedom and pluralism are an essential prerequisite,

B.  whereas these rights include freedom to express opinions and freedom to receive and communicate information without interference or pressure from the public authorities,

C. whereas in Italy in the last few months concerns have grown in relation to respect for these rights, particularly concerning pressure exerted and law suits brought by the Prime Minister against some Italian and European newspapers following the publication of information regarding him,

D. whereas the government has interfered with the public television broadcasting service, particularly in relation to programming,

E.  whereas this pressure and interference has caused protests in Italy and in Europe from prominent persons in the cultural, journalistic and media sectors as well as from the political world, leading to public appeals against threats to the media, such as the one promoted by the Association 'Articolo 21' and the one launched by three eminent Italian constitutionalists, which gathered more than 445 000 signatures in Italy and Europe, including those of prominent European cultural and political personalities,

F.  whereas, in relation to the request from the Commission for clarification of the return of migrants to Libya by the Italian Government, the Italian Prime Minister affirmed that he would propose - during the European Council - that only the Commission President be responsible for the spreading of information for the institution, threatening to block the work of the European Council if this was not accepted and provoking an official note of protest from the International Press Association,

G. whereas the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Miklós Haraszti, sent a letter to the Italian Prime Minister on 20 September 2009 calling on him to withdraw the law suits and the application for damages of € 3 million filed against Italian newspapers,

H. whereas, as already affirmed in other resolutions, recent Italian legislation has not solved the issue of the conflict of interests arising from the fact that the Prime Minister still - directly or indirectly - controls the Mediaset Group and has political control over the public service, in a situation in which the concentration rate of the TV market is the highest in Europe and the RAI-Mediaset duopoly has almost 90% of the entire TV audience, thereby collecting 96.8% of advertising revenue,

I.   whereas the Report on Freedom of the Press registers three EU Member States, including Italy, as countries where the press is only 'partly free',

J.   whereas, in spite of the repeated calls by the European Parliament for a directive on information pluralism and media concentration, the Commission did not include these issues in the scope of the revision of the 'TV without Frontiers' Directive, but committed itself to define a specific three-step roadmap on this issue, comprising the drafting of a working document (issued in 2007), the definition of indicators for the level of pluralism (contained in an independent study, issued in July 2009) and a proposal for a communication on these indicators (scheduled only for 2010),

K. whereas the Commission admitted in plenary on 8 October 2009 having had to desist from issuing a proposal for a directive on media concentration and pluralism due to the lack of political will on the part of all Member States,

L.  whereas the 'TV Without Frontiers' Directive, in spite of the exclusion of pluralism from its scope, introduced the right of journalists to access short extracts and the obligation to set up an independent media monitoring authority in each Member State, mainly thanks to the contribution of the European Parliament,

M. whereas, as admitted by the Commission in plenary, several legal bases could be identified to allow a set of legislative measures to increase pluralism in the European Union and avoid media concentration,

N. whereas the European Parliament has repeatedly called on the Commission, through several resolutions, to promote actions to guarantee pluralism and address the problem of media concentration, to issue an urgent communication on the protection of pluralism of the media and media concentration in Member States and to urgently complete the regulatory framework with a proposal for a directive on the same issues based on the legal basis that the Treaties clearly provide,

1.  Deplores the pressure and law suits directed at Italian and European newspapers by Italian public authorities, endorses the call by the OSCE Representative upon the Italian authorities to withdraw these actions without delay and considers undue any interference with freedom of information aimed at manipulating the public TV broadcasting service;

2.  Deems it necessary to address the anomaly represented by the special conflict of interests between political, economic and media power and by the concentration of direct or indirect control over public and private media and underlines the necessity to ensure in all Member States that public operators are independent and not subject to interference;

3.  Is convinced that freedom to receive and communicate information without interference from public authorities is a fundamental principle upon which the European Union is based and an essential element of democracy, as well as pluralism of media, both enshrined in Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and reiterates that - where Member States do not take the appropriate measures - the Union has the political and legal obligation to ensure to its citizens - in the areas of its competence - respect for these rights;

4.  Reaffirms that the EU legislative framework for media pluralism and media concentration still remains inadequate and that it is therefore urgent for the Commission to finally take action using existing Community powers in the fields of the internal market, audiovisual policy, competition, telecommunications, State aid, public service obligations and the fundamental rights of citizens, in order to define the minimum essential conditions that all Member States are obliged to respect to ensure, guarantee and promote freedom of information and an adequate level of media pluralism;

5.  In this respect, deplores the lack of political will of Member States and the inaction of the Commission as the political engine of the Union and urges the Commission to finally issue without delay a proposal for a directive on media pluralism and concentration, as requested several times by the European Parliament and as announced by the Commission itself;

6.  Urges the Commission to issue the planned communication on media pluralism without delay, is surprised that this communication was not mentioned by the Commission during the debate in plenary and confirms its readiness to take action through an own-initiative report on pluralism and concentration, upon reception of this communication;

7.  Requests its appropriate committees to follow up the matter and report back to plenary on freedom of information, media concentration and media pluralism;

8.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Council of Europe and the governments and national parliaments of the Member States.