Copyright: European Council

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Landmark coverage for media workers adopted

Media Freedom Act agreement found.

Copyright: European Parliament, EP-161759B
Copyright: European Parliament, EP-161759B

The hot streak continues in Brussels, with another agreement on European legislation found in the run up to the holidays, and against the backdrop of the looming elections in 2024. This time it is the Media Freedom Act which has found agreement amongst interinstitutional negotiators, with a number of significant victories for workers within the sector.

Eurocadres have been a longstanding advocate for robust legislation in this area, having joined a number of other unions and civil society organisations in calling on the CULT committee and ministers for European affairs to improve the text, alongside our tabled amendments and statements as part of a coalition of 80 organisations to work on improving the file. This is a continuation of our work on freedom of expression, best illustrated through our role in delivering a directive on Whistleblower Protection in 2019.

Latest developments had seen a heightened risk of surveillance and spy software being used against journalists and media personnel under the guise of a “national security clause”, which has now been removed from both Article 4 and the text of the directive as a whole. This is a massive victory for the independence of media workers, with the threat of spying on workers under mere suspicion raising a number of concerns amongst trade unions. Article 4 now includes a need for actors to obtain prior authorisation from an independent judicial authority before implementing any repressive measures under the article, such as detention, sanctions, search and seizure, access to encrypted data, use of surveillance technologies, spyware, etc.

“We welcome the adoption of the Media Freedom Act, and commend our colleagues who have joined us in campaigning for the freedoms won through this legislation. Media personnel are essential to the functioning of democracies, and will now be able to act freely and safely in their workplaces”

While we need to analyse the act in its entirety, it is clear that the text will now help to guarantee safe work for media workers, employment stability for those in the sector, increased fairness and transparency and protection of sources who underpin reporting.

Responding to the adoption of the text, Eurocadres President Nayla Glaise said:

“It has been a long road, but it has been worth the work involved. We welcome the adoption of the Media Freedom Act, and commend our colleagues who have joined us in campaigning for the freedoms won through this legislation.

Freedom of expression, independence and pluralism of the media are absolute necessities to ensure a functioning media sector, but also to fight back against misinformation and low confidence in media outlets. We will analyse provisions around media ownership, and reiterate our belief that full transparency must be offered to citizens in order to verify the impartiality and independence of reporting that often sets the agenda for public discourse and political discussions.

Some work may still need to be done, but what we have seen from the text constitutes a historic victory for European workers, including the professionals and managers within this sector.

Media personnel are essential to the functioning of democracies, and will now be able to act freely and safely in their workplaces”.

Our analysis of the text will be conducted when the act is passed in the European Council, where we will continue to work on improvements needed throughout the transposition and implementation of the act.