A recent report from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) titled “Fragile Progress” reveals that the European Union (EU) is grappling with numerous challenges in its efforts to uphold press freedom. The CP is an American independent non-profit organisation based in New York City, that promotes press freedom and defends the rights of journalists worldwide.
According to CPJ President Jodie Ginsberg, the EU must make measurable commitments to strengthen the progress made in protecting press freedom against rising authoritarianism and attacks aimed at undermining trust in the media. The report highlights that while the EU has long been considered one of the safest places for journalists, the recent surge in journalist killings and assaults on the press has forced the EU to reconsider its media freedom policies.
Following the 2019 European elections, the EU introduced significant reforms to enhance journalist safety, address the undermining of independent journalism by governments and oligarchs, and curb the use of abusive lawsuits to silence critical media. However, the CPJ report states that the EU often contradicts its own commitments, restricting access to public interest information and allowing trade or political interests to undermine its strategy for confronting autocrats who violate journalists’ rights.
The authors of the report indicate that the 2024 European Parliament elections present an opportunity for the EU to address these inconsistencies, challenge double standards, and set an ambitious vision for journalist safety and media freedom. The CPJ emphasises that the success of the EU’s press freedom efforts largely depends on the political goodwill of its 27 member states.
CPJ’s EU representative, Tom Gibson, stresses that independent media is under attack, and for EU reforms to be effective, they need buy-in from member states and the trust of journalists. The CPJ report offers recommendations to the EU, including remedying problematic legislation or practices, ensuring robust press freedom reforms, and demonstrating international leadership by providing support and assistance to journalists at risk.