News Media Europe

European Parliament protects news media against intimidating and silencing lawsuits that kill free speech

Press releases , May 25, 2023

This week, the Civil Liberties (LIBE) and Culture and Education (CULT) Committees in the European Parliament adopted two important opinions in the fight against strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs) targeting press publishers and journalists. The opinions will feed into the final position of the European Parliament, and we hope that many points are retained, including:

  • A broad scope that includes the protection of media outlets and newsrooms professionals
  • Media freedom and pluralism recognised as acts of public participation
  • News and journalistic reporting, both online and offline, considered as public interest activities
  • Early dismissal of abusive claims and swift judicial proceedings to avoid the financial bleeding of press publishers drowned in abusive proceedings
  • The application of the Directive to ongoing cases, to put an end to strategic cases aimed to silence or shut down media titles.

Wout van Wijk, Executive Director at News Media Europe, said: “We are glad that our case has been heard by MEPs. News media professionals should be able to do their job – informing the public and uncovering the truth – without fear of retaliation from those in positions of power. We will continue to raise awareness about the abuse of legal systems, domestically and across-borders, to put an end to intimidation tactics.”

We rely on the leading Legal Affairs Committee to adopt an ambitious position, and call on the Swedish Presidency to push the Council to do more for a free press. Aside of the Directive, we want to see Member States put the EU Recommendation against SLAPPs, already applicable at national level, in practice. The stakes are high for the protection of freedom of expression and democracy in Europe.

See our position and case studies about how SLAPPs impact press publishers:

For more information, contact:

Aurore Raoux, EU policy manager