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EMFA: A Political Agreement Achieved by Co-Legislators in 3rd Trialogue

Today, the Parliament and Council reached a political agreement during trialogue negotiations on the proposal by the European Commission for a European Media Freedom Act in a bold attempt to bring the benefits of a free press to all corners of the European Union.

The negotiators claim that the agreement is consistent with existing EU legislation, respects national competences in this area, and strikes the right balance between harmonisation and respect for national differences, so that member states will be able to adopt stricter or more detailed rules than those set out parts of the EMFA.

The European Publishers Council welcomed the parts of the Act that clarify the responsibility of the member states in guaranteeing independence and proper functioning of public media providers and obligations on member states to guarantee the effective protection of journalists and media providers from state interference.

Angela Mills Wade, Executive Director of the European Publishers Council said: “A fundamental tenet of press freedom is a press free from political interference and government surveillance. We welcome the prohibition on member states from using coercive measures to obtain information about journalists’ sources or their confidential communications, or to subject journalists to intimidation and surveillance including though the use of spyware. Also we welcome much needed transparency obligations of how state advertising is deployed to avoid grace and favour support of some media by the state, and a clearer procedure for how very large online platforms deal with editorial content so they can no longer just apply their own terms and conditions to block or remove lawful content with impunity”.

Angela added: “Although many changes sought by the European Publishers Council have been adopted, we remain cautious until we see the final articles that directly affect press publishers; especially regarding the competence of the new Board when it comes to dealing with the press, as well as the new rules on the assessment of media market concentrations, as it is important that media companies can consolidate in the current competitive environment.”

Today's provisional agreement must be endorsed by the Council and the Parliament once the text has been finalised at technical level. We are awaiting for the final text before we are able to make more detailed comments.

The EMFA is expected to be formally adopted by both institutions before spring of 2024.


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