Media freedom is under serious pressure in Europe, in a context of political interferences, verbal, physical and legal attacks as well generalised conditions characterised by lack of protection, that - albeit to different degrees - affect journalists and media professionals across all member states and candidate countries.
Strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs) are on the rise, employed by powerful individuals and companies to avoid public scrutiny and silence critical voices. At the same time, online harassment and intimidation, as well as surveillance incidents, are a growing phenomenon, directed against those dealing with corruption, human rights and other issues relevant to the rule of law.
Alongside with ensuring fair elections, and countering disinformation, strengthening media freedom figures as one of the key priorities on the EU current agenda, as articulated in the 2020 European Democracy Action Plan . Throughout the past few years, EU institutions have been issuing and discussing a number of measures directed towards ensuring a better protection of journalists , countering abusive and exaggerated lawsuits , and protecting media pluralism and independence . Such endeavours testify to the role played by civil society in drawing the attention and establishing a dialogue with EU policymakers on the ways to support and promote media freedom and freedom of expression, and on the pivotal role played by such rights in strengthening the resilience of EU democracies.
Three thematic sessions will explore the intersection between media and rule of law across Europe from different thematic angles, geographic and/or professional backgrounds.
9:00 - 10:00
Welcome and registration
10:00 - 10:30
Amb. Lamberto Zannier, president of CCI scientific board, former OSCE secretary general
Luisa Chiodi, scientific director at OBC Transeuropa
Esma Cakir, President at Associazione Stampa Estera in Italia (tbc)
10:30 - 12:00
Panel 1 - Towards a European society equipped to respond to SLAPPs: countering vexatious lawsuits through awareness raising and training activities
The anti-SLAPP proposed directive and the anti-SLAPP Recommendations adopted by the EC in April 2022 signal an increased awareness of the need for effective policy and practical tools to counter vexatious lawsuits against public participation. By exploring existing challenges and viable approaches to counter gag lawsuits, the panel will identify effective models to strengthen resilience and foster cooperation among relevant actors, such as journalists, activists and legal practitioners.
Introduction: Sielke Kelner, OBC Transeuropa researcher and advocacy officer
Moderator: Roberta Taveri, Media Freedom Programme Officer at Article 19 Europe
Sara Manisera, freelance journalist
Vesna Alaburić, lawyer and media legislation expert
Jelena Vasić, project manager at KRIK
Emina Veljović, director of the Aarhus Centre Sarajevo
12:00 - 12:30
12:30 - 14:00
Panel 2 - European Media Freedom Act: the delicate intersection between market regulations and the protection of journalism
The panel will explore the innovations included in the European Media Freedom Act, focussing on how the challenging attempt to harmonise the norms and provisions that regulate journalism in the different member states can either promote or curb the free exercise of the profession and the rights to freedom of expression in the European space. From state advertising and state funded media to media ownership, from the protection of editorial independence to anti-surveillance measures, the EMFA addresses contested domains where conflictual political views and economic demands challenge the essence of journalism as a cornerstone of our democracy.
Introduction: Dimitri Bettoni, OBC Transeuropa journalist and researcher
Moderator: Oliver Money-Kyrle, head of European advocacy at International Press Institute (IPI)
Renate Schroeder, director at European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
Dimitri Deliolanes, journalist
Elda Brogi, part-time professor at European University Institute and scientific coordinator at Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom
Gianluca Amadori, professional councillor Italian Order of Journalists
14:00 - 15:30
15:30 - 17:00
Panel 3 - Ensuring the safety of journalists: the role of law enforcement authorities
In 2021 the European Commission adopted its Recommendations on the protection, safety and empowerment of journalists calling on Member states to ensure safe working conditions for journalists and media workers. Yet, threats and attacks against journalists remain an issue of concern in many EU member states as well as in candidate countries. The panel will investigate the relationship between journalism and law enforcement authorities: on the one hand it will explore the potential for a constructive collaboration, while on the other it will discuss the potential threat that law enforcement authorities may represent when they act in a context of fragile rule of law.
Introduction: Serena Epis, OBC Transeuropa researcher
Moderator: Guusje Somer, policy and advocacy officer at Free Press Unlimited (FPU)
Emilia Șercan, investigative journalist and assistant professor at the University of Bucharest
Blerjana Bino, researcher at Safe Journalists Network (possibly from remote)
Paolo Borrometi, FNSI national councillor and contact person for projects on legality education and political, union and legislative initiatives, AGI co-director and president at Article 21
Srdan Kosović, editor-in-chief at Vijesti
17:00 - 17:30
Chiara Sighele, programme director at OBC Transeuropa
Laurens Hueting, Senior Advocacy Officer at European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
Benjamin Fishman, coordinator of Italian programmes at Heinrich Böll Stiftung Francia - Italia
17:30 - 19:00
The event will take place in English with simultaneous translation in Italian.
Attendance is free, but registration is required. Register here
INFO: Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso Transeuropa
Serena Epis - e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The conference is organised by OBC Transeuropa/CCI within the MFRR project, in cooperation with the Heinrich Böll Stiftung Paris, France - Italy and with the support of Federazione Nazionale Stampa Italiana and Consiglio Nazionale Ordine dei giornalisti.
Rule of Law
European policies and legislation
This content is part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and Candidate Countries. The project is co-funded by the European Commission.