Vice-President for Values and Transparency, Věra Jourová, who inaugurated the event, said:
The murder of investigative journalists Daphne Caruana Galizia and Ján Kuciak should have been an alarm signal for the European Union. The increasing threats and attacks against journalists are threats and attacks against democracy as a whole. For the first time, the Commission is working on an initiative dedicated to the safety of journalists, which should bring tangible improvements on the ground.
Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton, added:
Media freedom cannot be taken for granted, we must actively defend it, particularly with the increased risk of online attacks in the digital age. We must ensure that journalists can play their crucial role in our democracies by guaranteeing that they work in complete safety. Today we are launching a dialogue on how to increase their protection, facilitate cooperation among them and help them acquire the digital skills needed.
The dialogue ran until 25 March within the framework of the European News Media Forum. It is a central step in preparation of the Commission’s Recommendation to Member States on ensuring the protection of journalists (online and offline) and tackling gender and minority-based attacks in the EU. The Recommendation will be adopted later this year.
The Forum and the Recommendation are part of a broader set of actions to address the threats to media freedom and pluralism in the EU, as announced in the European Democracy Action Plan and to journalists in particular, together with an initiative to curb the abusive use of lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs). This is also linked to the Action Plan to support recovery and transformation of the media and audiovisual sectors in the EU.