European Parliament approves new law to protect journalists and press freedom in the EU

Mandating that the owners of social media groups be known

The European Parliament today gave final approval to the new European Union (EU) law to protect journalists and press freedom, prohibiting spying systems and requiring the owners of media groups to be known.

In a final vote taken in the plenary session, in the French city of Strasbourg, the European assembly then gave the 'green light' to the new law that protects European journalists and media outlets from political or economic interference, by 464 votes in favor, 92 against and 65 abstentions.

Stressing that the new community legislation "obliges Member States to protect the independence of the media and prohibits any form of intervention in editorial decisions", the European Parliament points out in a statement that "authorities will also be prohibited from putting pressure on journalists and editors to disclose their sources", not being able to "arrest them, punish them, search their offices or install intrusive surveillance systems on their electronic devices".

The idea, then, is to safeguard the freedom, pluralism and editorial independence of media outlets, to protect journalists from political interference and combat all forms of pressure on media outlets in the EU.

With the new legislation now approved, the idea is that the media will begin to publicly disclose information about who their owners are and who benefits from them, directly or indirectly, as well as state advertising and financial support from the State, including public funds from third countries.

In October 2022, the European Commission (which has legislative initiative in the EU) proposed this European Media Freedom Act, with a new set of rules and mechanisms aimed at promoting media pluralism and independence in the entire EU.