Press freedom: the European Parliament in support of journalists

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. There have been attacks and intimidation in some countries.

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.

Media Freedom Act

In March 2024, MEPs approved new legislation to protect EU journalists and media from political or economic interference. With the Media Freedom Act, EU countries will be obliged to protect media independence and any interventions in editorial decisions will be banned.

The new rules prohibit authorities from applying pressure on journalists and editors to reveal their sources. The use of spyware on journalists will only be possible when serious crimes are being investigated and will require prior approval by a court. Further provisions include safeguards against arbitrary decisions by big social media platforms to restrict access to or delete independent media content.

The rules also aim to make it clear to the public who controls the media. All news outlets will be required to disclose information about their owners.

The European Parliament is working to ensure journalists and media across Europe can continue to work freely.

Other measures and actions to protect press freedom

New rules, adopted in February 2024, aim to protect journalists and others against abusive lawsuits aimed at silencing them. Defendants will be able to request early dismissal of cases and ask for claimants to bear all legal costs.

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.

Freedom of expression, media freedom and pluralism are enshrined in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, as well as in the European Convention on Human Rights.

Infographic showing Article 11 of the EU charter of fundamental rights on freedom of expression and information
Infographic showing Article 11 of the EU charter of fundamental rights on freedom of expression and information

Safety of journalists around the world

The situation in many 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.

Wars have also been deadly for journalists. According to UN reports, more than 122 journalists and media workers were killed in Gaza and many others injured in the first four months of the conflict, which followed the Hamas terrorist attacks on 7 October 2023.

Council of Europe data from February 2024 shows that at least 14 journalists have been killed since Russia’s full-scale invasion in Ukraine in February 2022.