On this day we celebrate the World Press Freedom Day in a difficult context for journalism. Freedom of expression and Freedom of the press are threatened around the world.
Attacks against media and journalists are attacks against democracy, against the freedom of all of us. We pay tribute to all journalists in Europe and worldwide who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession. We call on all states to condemn violence against journalists, to take action to improve the safety of journalists with particular attention to women journalists, and to bring perpetrators and instigators of such violence to justice.
The European Union is founded on the values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law, on free and pluralistic media as enshrined in the EU’s fundamental rights charter. Press freedom plays a crucial role in promoting good governance, transparency, and accountability. Independent journalism is vital to hold states accountable and to monitor democratic processes. Free, diverse and independent media, both online and offline, are pillars of a pluralistic and open society, and they bear the great responsibility to guarantee checked and correct news to the public.
Respect for freedom of expression is integrated in all EU policies and development programmes. EU legislation, policies and instruments have been designed to strengthen media freedom across the union and to improve transparency, credibility and diversity of information online. The EU will continue funding targeted projects in third countries enhancing quality of journalism, access to public information and freedom of expression.
We will consistently condemn violence against journalists and oppose – in bilateral contacts with third countries as well as in multilateral and regional fora – any legislation, regulation or political pressure that limits freedom of expression and will take concrete steps to prevent and respond to attacks against journalists and bloggers, including emergency assistance to protect human rights defenders at high risk, sometimes by means of relocation.
Today we reaffirm EU’s determination to keep protecting and promoting freedom of opinion and of expression as rights to be exercised by everyone everywhere, based on the principles of equality, non-discrimination and universality, through any media, within our borders and beyond.