This website is an archive of the work of Marietje Schaake in the European Parliament between 2009 and 2019. Marietje can be reached at

Draft report on 'the Freedom of Press and Media in the World"

I'm happy to share my draft report on 'the Freedom of Press and Media in the World'. This report builds on the discussion paper and the many comments and ideas I received following my call for input, for which I am very grateful. The draft report will be discussed during the meeting of the Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday 20 March. I would like to hear your thoughts and suggestions on the draft report and will be more than happy to take them into consideration for the final report. Thank you. Marietje Schaake ---------


on the freedom of press and media in the world

(2011/2081(INI)) The European Parliament, –    having regard to Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, –    having regard to Article 13 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, recognizing the right to freedom of expression of children, –    having regard to the resolution of the UN Human Rights Council of 28 March 2008 (7/36) extending the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression[1], –    having regard to the reports of the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue[2], which also underline the applicability of international human rights norms and standards regarding the right to freedom of opinion and expression on the internet considered as a communications medium, –    having regard to the resolution of the UN Human Rights Council of 5 July 2012 entitled ‘The promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet’’[3], which recognises the importance of human rights protection and the free flow of information online, –    having regard to the report of 21 March 2011 by the UN Special Representative on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, John Ruggie, entitled ‘Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework’[4], –    having regard to UN Security Council Resolution S/RES/1738 on attacks against journalists, media professionals and associated personnel in armed conflicts[5], of 23 December 2006, –    having regard to the Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949[6], in particular Article 79 of its Additional Protocol I regarding the protection of journalists engaged in dangerous professional missions in areas of armed conflict, –    having regard to the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, endorsed on 12 April 2012 by the UN Chief Executives Board[7], –    having regard to the Reykjavik declaration by the Council of Europe on the impact of anti-terrorism measures on freedom of expression[8], of 29 May 2009, –    having regard to the work carried out by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on media freedom, and in particular the reports by its Representative on Freedom of the Media, –    having regard to the reports by NGOs on the media such as those by Reporters Without Borders (Press Freedom Indexes) and Freedom House (Freedom of the Press reports), –    having regard to its resolution of 6 February 2013 on ‘Corporate social responsibility: promoting society’s interests and a route to sustainable and inclusive recovery’[9], –    having regard to its resolution of 6 February 2013 on ‘Corporate social responsibility: accountable, transparent and responsible business behaviour and sustainable growth’[10], –    having regard to its resolution of 13 December 2012 on the Annual Report on Human Rights in the World and the European Union’s policy on the matter[11], –    having regard to its resolution of 22 November 2012 on the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT-12) of the International Telecommunication Union, and the possible expansion of the scope of international telecommunication regulations[12], –    having regard to its resolution of 15 November 2012 on ‘A Digital Freedom Strategy in EU Foreign Policy’[13], –    having regard to the Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy (11855/2012) adopted by the Council on 25 June 2012, –    having regard to its recommendation to the Council of 13 June 2012 concerning the EU Special Representative for Human Rights[14], –    having regard to the Joint Communication of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council of 12 December 2011 entitled ‘Human Rights and Democracy at the Heart of EU External Action - Towards a more effective approach’ (COM(2011)0886), –    having regard to the communication of 12 December 2011 by the Commissioner for the Digital Agenda on the ‘No Disconnect Strategy’, –    having regard to the communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 25 October 2011 entitled ‘A renewed EU strategy 2011-2014 for Corporate Social Responsibility’ (COM(2011)0681)), –    having regard to its resolution of 7 July 2011 on EU external policies in favour of democratisation[15], –    having regard to the Joint communication of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Commission of 25 May 2011 entitled ‘A New response to a changing Neighbourhood’ (COM(2011)0303), –    having regard to its resolution of 16 December 2008 on media literacy in a digital world[16], –    having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1889/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on establishing a financing instrument for the promotion of democracy and human rights worldwide (EIDHR)[17], and all other EU external financing instruments, –    having regard to its resolution of 14 February 2006 on the human rights and democracy clause in European Union agreements[18], –    having regard to its resolutions on urgent cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, where they raise concerns regarding press and media freedom, particularly the imprisonment of journalists and bloggers, –    having regard to Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and in particular to its provision that ‘the freedom and pluralism of the media shall be respected’, –    having regard to Articles 3 and 21 of the Treaty on European Union and to Article 207 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, –    having regard to the European Union’s guidelines on human rights, –    having regard to the European Convention on Human Rights of the Council of Europe and the ongoing negotiations on the EU’s accession to the Convention, –    having regard to Rule 48 of its Rules of Procedure, –    having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A7-0000/2013), Principles and role of the press and media A.  whereas the right to freedom of expression is a universal human right and is essential to the realisation of other rights, such as development, dignity and fulfilment of every human being; B.   whereas restrictions on freedom of expression have far-reaching effects and can only be justified subject to narrow and strict conditions, provided by law which itself is considered legitimate under international law; C.  whereas media platforms are essential for the exercise of the right to freedom of expression; whereas the press, as a collective manifestation of free expression, is one of the key actors in the media landscape; D.  whereas freedom of the press, media, the digital sector and journalism are considered to be public goods; E.   whereas (digital) media platforms increasingly have a global nature; F.   whereas net neutrality is an essential principle for the open internet, ensuring competition and transparency; whereas the free flow of information is also beneficial for business opportunities; G.  whereas journalists, media and freedom of speech are under threat all over the world and journalists are often human rights defenders; H.  whereas new digital and online media platforms have contributed to increased diversity and pluralism, but also to the attempts to restrict them; I.    whereas the EU’s efforts and programmes to foster and protect press and media freedom worldwide need to be optimised, building on the valuable work by civil society and journalist organisations; J.    whereas the EU is only credible on the global stage when press and media freedoms are safeguarded and respected within the Union itself; Recent developments 1.   Recognises that governments have the primary responsibility for hampering freedom of the press and media, and are increasingly resorting to legal pressure, e.g. through the abuse of anti-terrorism legislation and laws on national security, treason or subversion, in order to restrict press and media freedom; 2.   Deplores the fact that journalists are frequently murdered throughout the world, often with impunity; 3.   Stresses that laws, statutory regulation, intimidation, fines, highly concentrated ownership by politicians or others with conflicting interests can all limit the freedom to acquire and access information or lead to threats to freedom after expression; 4.   Deplores the fact that criminalisation of expression is on the rise; recalls that journalists are frequently imprisoned worldwide because of their work; is aware that defamation, blasphemy and libel laws are used to imprison or censor journalists and block free expression; regrets that censorship fosters self-censorship; 5.   Deplores the fact that many journalists have no access to legal assistance while their profession increasingly finds itself in the front line of the struggle for human rights, whether online or offline; 6.   Considers the trend of concentrated media ownership in large conglomerates to be a threat to media freedom and pluralism, especially with digitisation occurring in parallel; stresses the importance of an open and enabling underlying media infrastructure, as also of the existence of independent regulators; 7.   Stresses that, while businesses bear new responsibilities in a globally and digitally connected world, they also face new challenges in areas that have traditionally been the preserve of public authorities; is aware that government blocking orders affecting online content and services have put pressure on editorial independence and continuity of service; 8.   Deplores the push for the privatisation of policing and law enforcement through internet and information service providers; 9.   Recognises that all too often media are used as traditional propaganda tools and that, specifically regarding public service media, financial and political independence is essential; Digitisation 10. Recognises the potential impact of today’s ever more digitised media and their empowering effects on individuals, phenomena which create anxiety for those in power; 11. Stresses that access to information, both online and offline, is necessary for the evolution of opinion and expression, as well as for the expression and communication of content via media platforms, since these constitute essential checks on power; 12. Recognises that the digitisation of media and information has magnified their reach and impact but has also blurred the fine line between information and opinion; notes the significant increase in user-generated content and citizen journalism; 13. Considers that digitisation of the press and media adds new layers to the media landscape, raising questions regarding access, quality, the objectivity of information and its protection; 14. Is concerned about mass surveillance, mass censoring, and blocking and filtering tendencies affecting the media and the work of journalists and bloggers; 15. Stresses the need for greater understanding of the role of intermediaries and their responsibilities; considers that market regulators can help preserve competition, but that it is also necessary to explore new ways of engaging private actors in order to preserve the public value of information; recognises that self-regulation can entail specific risks where (democratic) oversight is lacking; 16. Stresses that digital and (computer) data-driven platforms or services such as search engines are privately owned and require transparency so as to preserve the public value of information and prevent restrictions on access to information and freedom of expression; 17. Stresses the need for whistleblower and source protection and for the EU to act to that end globally; EU policies and external actions 18. Considers that for the EU considered as a community of values the promotion and protection of global press and media freedom are essential; 19. Believes that the EU should lead the way in ensuring that the media remain independent, plural and diverse, and in defending the situation, freedom and security of journalists and bloggers; stresses that, to this end, the EU should not interfere with content but should, rather, support an enabling environment and limit restrictions to freedom of expression globally, 20. Notes that in recent years some media, notably in the EU, have come under scrutiny themselves for their unethical behaviour; considers that the EU can only lead by example if it keeps its own house in order; 21. Considers that, while the EU addresses press and media freedom through several policies and programmes, it lacks a specific overall focus on freedom of the press and the media, as well as a coherent driving vision and benchmarks; Strategy 22. Urges the Commission, especially DG DEVCO, and the European External Action Service (EEAS) to improve their cooperation and coordination of programming, particularly by synergising political and diplomatic work and through the joint implementation, including via monitoring and assessment, of funding and projects; calls on the Commission to improve its analysis and evaluation of past, existing and future programming, and to make the results public; 23. Calls for a shift from ad hoc funding of projects to a more sustainable approach, also involving private donors and interlocutors; recognises the need for a country-by-country and tailored approach to programming; 24. Acknowledges that the EU can play a more significant role in relation to its immediate neighbourhood, notably in the candidate countries, and in the context of trade and association negotiations; 25. Considers that existing external financial instruments, such as the EIDHR, geographical instruments and others, need to be used flexibly in order to help strengthen civil society; stresses that local ownership and capacity-building are essential to ensure sustainable development and progress; 26. Considers that the EU should educate and train policymakers, regulators and media alike in third countries, with the goal of fostering press and media freedom and appropriate and technology-neutral forms of market regulation, especially recalling that in periods of transition freedoms are often restricted in the name of stability and security; 27. Stresses that media development and enabling freedom of expression should be at the heart of the EU’s dialogue at country level, as well as of its trade and partnership agreements and aid programmes, in compliance with Article 21 TEU; 28. Calls on the Commission to make the fight against impunity one of its priorities in its freedom of expression and media programmes, also by offering assistance in investigating crimes against journalists, by establishing legal defence funds and providing expertise; 29. Considers that EU funding should not be limited to specialised international organisations (intermediaries) but should also include local organisations; 30. Calls on the Commission to reconsider the confidentiality clauses in its human rights funding in the context of the press and media, since this leaves room for the discrediting of journalists, media outlets or NGOs, thus also damaging the credibility of EU human rights activities which are in themselves open and transparent; 31. Considers that press and media programmes should also focus on improving the (state and legal) structures and supporting local media companies and businesses, in order to improve transparency and openness; 32. Stresses the fundamental importance of press and media freedom in the EU’s enlargement policy and of digital freedoms in this context, considering these freedoms as an integral part of the Copenhagen criteria; 33. Considers that the EU should include press and media support components in its electoral assistance, for instance by fostering cooperation between electoral management bodies in third countries and the press, so as to improve the transparency and legitimacy of the electoral process and results; 34. Urges the Commission to include financial management, in the form of transparency and reporting requirements, in the context of all forms of budget support given by the EU, in order to allow the press to report on the spending of the funds; 35. Calls on the EEAS to make optimal use of the EU’s engagement in multilateral forums which focus on press, media and digital freedoms, such as the Council of Europe, UNESCO, and the OSCE, and in the context of the UN; 36. Calls on the Commission and Council to adopt a Press and Media Freedom Strategy under EU foreign policy, as soon as possible; 37. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the European External Action Service, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, UNESCO, the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

[2] In particular, those of 16 May 2011 (A/HRC/17/27), 10 August 2011 (A/66/290), 4 June 2012 (A/HRC/20/17) and 7 September 2012 (A/67/357), available at:
[4] A/HRC/17/31, available at:
[8] (MCM(2009)011), available at
[9] Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0050.
[10] Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0049.
[11] Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0503.
[12] Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0451.
[13] Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0470.
[14] Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0250.
[15] Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0334.
[16] OJ C 45 E, 23.2.2010, p. 9.
[17] OJ L386, 29.12.2006, p 1.
[18] OJ C 290 E, 29.11.2006, p 107.