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Harassment of journalists in Catalonia

Question écrite de Mme Maite PAGAZAURTUNDÚA - Commission européenne

Question de Mme Maite PAGAZAURTUNDÚA,

Diffusée le 14 décembre 2020

Subject: Harassment of journalists in Catalonia

Article 11(1) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union enshrines the right to freedom of expression, which encompasses the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authorities.

The Commission has announced that in 2021 it will put forward a recommendation on the safety of journalists, with a particular focus on threats against women journalists.

In Catalonia, as the journalist Anna Grau has reported, journalists who do not ascribe to the regional government's doctrine of exclusionary nationalism are suffering increasing pressure, harassment and even acts of violence. Reporters Without Borders gave a similar warning in its most recent annual report on press freedom.

Does the Commission intend to conduct a country-by-country study with a view to implementing this recommendation on journalists’ safety?

Does the Commission intend to implement specific measures to protect journalists from harassment and hate speech, especially when motivated by xenophobia?

Will the Commission ask the Spanish Government for information on how the freedom and independence of journalists and media pluralism is being protected in places such as Catalonia, given that these are fundamental pillars of a functioning democracy?

Réponse - Commission européenne

Diffusée le 18 mars 2021

Answer given by Vice-President Jourová on behalf of the European Commission (19 March 2021)

The first Rule of Law report focused on some fundamental elements of media freedom and pluralism with a particular bearing on the rule of law, such as the independence of the media regulatory authorities, transparency of media ownership, state advertising, as well as the safety of journalists and access to information.

The results of the Commission-funded Media Pluralism Monitor (MPM) for 2020, highlighted in the Rule of Law Report, show that journalists and other media actors continue to face threats and attacks (both physical and online) in several of the Member States monitored (1).

The MPM points out that female journalists tend to be victims of such threats more frequently (2). The 2020 MPM, which, among other issues, analyses risks related to safety of journalists in all European countries, reported medium risk in Spain with regard to the indicator on the journalistic profession, standards and protection.

As announced in the European Democracy Action Plan (3), the Commission is committed to delivering a recommendation to further tackle safety issues, as well as ensuring better implementation of the standards set out in the Council of Europe Recommendation on the protection of journalism and safety of journalists and other media actors (4). The initiative will also address gender-based threats.

To prepare the recommendation, the Commission will organise a structured dialogue under the European News Media Forum, involving all Member States and their media regulatory authorities, as well as representatives of journalists, self-regulatory bodies, civil society and international actors. The Commission is planning to launch the structured dialogue in early 2021.

The Commission will also continue to analyse the aspects related to the safety of journalists in its annual Rule of Law Report. For that purpose, the Commission will engage in bilateral exchanges with all Member States, including Spain.





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