The recording of AUTHLIB’s panel discussion titled “What Role for the European Media Freedom Act in Central Europe?” organized on May 15, 2023, is now available on AUTHLIB’s YouTube channel.
Media freedom and pluralism are cornerstones of a well-functioning democracy, yet the politicization of media and the lack of independence of media regulators in certain member states, as well as the lack of transparency of media ownership and the deteriorating professional conditions for journalists are rising concerns across the European Union. These factors have been particularly worrying in Bulgaria, Hungary, and Poland in recent years, with market plurality and political independence being at especially high risk in all three countries, according to the Media Pluralism Monitor.
To address the growing concerns, in September 2022 the European Commission put forward the European Media Freedom Act (EMFA), the first comprehensive legal framework to promote media pluralism and freedom across the European Union. The proposed legislation contains measures to prevent political interference and surveillance, and to increase the protection of journalistic sources. It aims to ensure adequate funding for public service media and transparency of media ownership. It would also establish an independent European Board of Media Services to support the consistent application of the new EU media law in the member states.
Questions remain, however, as to how the proposed act, which is currently under consideration in the European Parliament, would have an impact in rapidly deteriorating environments where governments are often complicit in undermining the freedom and plurality of media. Would it effectively address the challenges independent and public service media face in countries like Bulgaria, Hungary, and Poland? How could the planned European Media Freedom Act support the establishment of safeguards for the sector in Central and Eastern Europe? What is the added value of the new framework and what are its blind spots?
The event explored what role the European Media Freedom Act could play in supporting media freedom and pluralism and in countering the systemic assault they face in the most vulnerable EU member states in Central and Eastern Europe.
Konrad Bleyer-Simon, Research Associate, Center for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom, European University Institute
Boryana Dzhambazova, Member of the Board, Association of European Journalists Bulgaria
Anna Wójcik, Post-Doctoral Researcher, Polish Academy of Sciences
Zsuzsanna Végh, Visiting Fellow, The German Marshall Fund of the United States
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