News Media Europe

New EU legislation hits back at abuse lawsuits and empowers the free press

Press releases , April 27, 2022


-Brussels, 27 April 2022- 

Today, European press publishers applaud legislation tackling abusive lawsuits against public participation, also known as “SLAPPs”. With dissuasive penalties and early dismissals, authors of disproportionate claims will think twice before starting proceedings. Every year, press publishers are forced to spend millions in legal fees to fight accusations from corrupt powerful elites. This is money we would rather invest in journalism.

Wout van Wijk, Executive Director at News Media Europe, said: “For too long, loopholes in legal systems have been misused to undermine the free press in Europe and to bury news media professionals under frivolous and orchestrated claims. Europe now hits back, with this new law on our side”.

Wout van Wijk continued: “SLAPPs are the torment of democracy, disguised under legal mandates. Not only are they draining on newsrooms’ limited time and financial resources, they slash the ability of the press to expose crimes, corruption and public interest information. This is a maneuver against citizens’ right to know”.

Over the past year, News Media Europe worked with the European Commission’s expert group with NGOs, lawyers and human rights defenders to make this proposal, which takes into account many of our recommendations, happen.

We also call on Member States to apply the EU Recommendations that the Commission published in conjunction with its proposal for a Directive and we will sustain efforts to convince the European Parliament and Member States to back this proposal, in the interest of media freedom and democracy in Europe.  We look forward to a constructive continuation of the debate on SLAPPs with the upcoming Czech and Swedish presidencies.

About News Media Europe:

News Media Europe is the voice of the progressive news media industry in Europe, representing over 2,500 news brands in print, online, radio and TV, through national associations from sixteen countries. Together, we defend key principles which are vital to us: protecting the freedom of the press, championing the digital future of our industry, and ensuring that the value of content is properly protected.

For further information please contact:

Aurore Raoux, EU policy manager