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Blocks forming the words "free media" on a newspaper

Free media are a key pillar of every democracy and they are essential for a healthy market economy. On a global scale, the European Union remains a stronghold for free media, setting a standard as a democratic continent. Yet, there are increasingly worrying trends. Building on past efforts, the Commission has taken a number of measures to protect media freedom and pluralism in the EU. This has culminated in the European Media Freedom Act proposal, which was put forward by the Commission on 16 September 2022.

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.

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, in her State of the Union address, 15 September 2021
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission

New rules to protect media pluralism and independence

The European Media Freedom Act proposed a new set of rules to protect media pluralism and independence in the EU. They will ensure that media – public and private – can operate more easily across borders in the EU internal market, without undue pressure and taking into account the digital transformation of the media space.

Among others, the Media Freedom Act aims to achieve:

No interference in editorial decisions of media

No spyware against journalists

Independent and adequately funded public service media

Transparency of ownership

Transparent and fair audience measurement systems and allocation of state advertising

Establishment of a new European Board for Media Services

More protection for media against unjustified online content removal

Assessment of market concentrations and requirements on national measures affecting the media

The Commission has also proposed to set up a new independent European Board for Media Services comprised of national media authorities. The Board will promote the effective and consistent application of the EU media law framework.

EU support for free media

General view of the journalists

There are also a number of ways in which the EU is supporting media freedom and pluralism, including by:

  • Having press and media councils that strengthen the position of press and media councils in a converged media environment (Budget: €500,000)
  • Implementing a Media Ownership Monitoring System to provide a country-based database containing information on media ownership (Budget: €1 million)
  • The Collaborative and Investigative Journalism Initiative, which equips media outlets and journalists with resources and infrastructure (Budget: €1 million)
  • Providing grants to support innovation of local and regional media and boost pluralism (Budget: €2 million)
  • Having a rapid response mechanism to provide practical help to protect journalists under threat (Budget: €1.95 million)
  • Providing emergency support fund for investigative journalists and media organisations to ensure media freedom in the EU (Budget: €1.8 million)
  • Implementing a Media Pluralism Monitor to identify potential risks to media pluralism (Budget: €1.1 million)
  • Having Journalism Partnerships to support business transformation and collaborations between media (Budget: €7.5 million)

Key actions