Press freedom is under pressure in the EU and across the world. Find out how the European Parliament supports the work of journalists.
Journalism is facing more and more challenges, as new digital channels are exploited to spread disinformation in an increasingly divided world. While Europe remains the most secure continent for journalists and media freedom, there have been attacks and intimidation in some countries while Russia’s war against Ukraine makes things even worse.
The European Parliament has repeatedly advocated for press freedom and media pluralism in the EU and beyond. On the occasion of Press Freedom Day on 3 May, MEPs held a plenary debate in Strasbourg where they expressed concern about the increasing attacks on journalists and stressed that free press is essential for democracy to function.
The role of the European Parliament in protecting free press
In October 2023, MEPs adopted their position on new rules aimed at protecting media pluralism and independence in the EU: the European Media Freedom Act. Parliament wants to ban interference with editorial decisions, improve transparency of media ownership and help ensure adequate funding of media.
In November 2021, MEPs called for new rules to protect critical voices from being silenced, which was followed by the Commission's proposal that provides minimum standards of protection from Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (Slapp) in the EU. Parliament adopted its negotiating position in July 2023.
In July 2023, MEPs also called for more forceful global efforts to protect journalists, expressing deep concern about the state of global media freedom and journalists' safety.
MEPs acknowledge that the new digital environment has exacerbated the problem of the spread of disinformation.
In two other reports adopted in March 2022 and June 2023, MEPs urged the EU to create a common strategy to face foreign interference and disinformation campaigns and called for more support to independent media, fact checkers and researchers.
In June 2023, Parliament adopted recommendations against the abuse of spyware that has been found to be illegally used against journalists and political opponents.
On 3 May 2023, Parliament launched the third edition of the Daphne Caruana Galizia Prize for Journalism, in memory of the Maltese journalist killed in a bomb attack in 2017, to reward outstanding journalism reflecting EU values.
The challenges for journalism in Europe
The situation in most EU countries is good, however in a resolution on media freedom in 2020 MEPs expressed concern about the state of public service media in some EU countries.
There have been attacks on journalists across the EU. Greek journalist George Karaivaz was shot dead in Athens in April 2021 and Dutch investigative journalist Peter R. de Vries was killed in Amsterdam in July 2021.
The war in Ukraine has also been deadly for journalists. Council of Europe data from June 2023 shows that 12 journalists had been killed since Russia’s invasion in Ukraine in February 2022.