Brussels, 11 October 2011 – A high-level group to provide recommendations for the respect, protection, support and promotion of media freedom and pluralism in Europe has been convened by European Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes. The group, which will be fully independent, will be chaired by the former President of Latvia, Professor Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga.
The group’s members have been selected for their expertise in their respective fields and for their complete independence. They are Professor Herta Däubler-Gmelin, former Minister of Justice of Germany, Professor Luís Miguel Poiares Pessoa Maduro, European University Institute and former Advocate-General at the European Court of Justice and Ben Hammersley, digital pioneer & Editor at Large of a technology magazine. The European Commission will provide the secretariat of the Group.
The group, meeting for the first time on 11 October, is to draw up a report for the Commission with recommendations for the respect, protection, support and promotion of pluralism and freedom of the media in Europe. The findings of the Group will be made public.
Neelie Kroes said: “Freedom of expression is one of the essential foundations of our democratic societies, recognised in the European Treaties and in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. But media freedom and pluralism also need to flourish in practice, in a favourable environment. Therefore I invite this newly created high-level group to carry out a comprehensive analysis, and come up with recommendations.”
The Commission invites the group to analyse and provide recommendations on issues such as:
• limitations to media freedom arising from political interference (state intervention or national legislation)
• limitations to media independence arising from private and commercial interference
• the question of the concentration of media ownership and its consequence for media freedom/pluralism and on the independence of journalists
• existing or potential legal threats to the protection of journalists’ rights and their profession in Member States
• the role and independence of regulatory authorities
• existing or potential measures in favour of quality journalism, ethics and media accountability, within the respective competences of national, EU and international authorities.
The Group will take into consideration national media laws of the Member States and applicant countries in order to identify common issues or concerns and highlight possible solutions for the protection of media freedom.
The Group will decide itself on its working methods. It is invited to hold consultations or hearings, as appropriate, with experts, stakeholders, Members of the European Parliament and the competent authorities of Member States.