Von Der Leyen Promises Action On Journalists Safety

A new law will be introduced in Europe to crack down on threats to media freedom which must be stopped in order to promote and protect transparency, European Commission President von der Leyen has said. 

In recent years, journalists have been murdered in EU countries Greece, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Denmark, Malta and the Netherlands and the media outlets have faced hostile tactics from Governments in a bid to quash press freedom.

In her State of the Union Address, President von der Leyen said action must be taken in Europe to protect journalists and defend democracy, as media professionals face an increasing array of threats designed to chill reporting.    

She said: “Information is a public good. We must protect those who create transparency – the journalists. That is why today we have put forward a recommendation to give journalists better protection.

“And we need to stop those who threaten media freedom. Media companies cannot be treated as just another business.  Their independence is essential. Europe needs a law that safeguards this independence – and the Commission will deliver a Media Freedom Act in the next year.

“Defending media freedom means defending our democracy.”

Her comments were welcomed by NME executive director Wout van Wijk who said that threats to media professionals were spreading through Europe like a “dark stain” and the urgent action must be taken to protect media freedom.

NME has welcomed the Commission’s recommendations for the Safety of Journalists in Europe and urged EU member states to act to protect journalists who face an increasing level of threats. 

Mr van Wijk said: “Threats to media professionals are spreading through Europe like a dark stain. Now that the Recommendations are out, we ask the European Commission not to let go of anything.

“Change must happen, in the criminal systems, in the implementation of the rule of law principles, and in the way society perceives news media professionals. Now member states need to step up to protect journalists and journalism, vital to the functioning of democracy.”

Member states must report about the implementation of the set of recommendations within the next 18 months.