Concerned about the negotiations in the trilogue, that is, about the possibility of weakening the proposed European law on media freedoms and the SLAPP Directive, and in cooperation with the European Federation of Journalists at the national level, we want to meet representatives of the executive and legislative authorities in Croatia, Croatian negotiators, and representatives in the European and Croatian Parliament with the views of journalistic organizations and media experts on the European Act on Freedom of the Press and on the Directive on Suppressing SLAPP Lawsuits. Today, at the meeting of representatives of TUCJ and CJA, Maja Sever and Hrvoje Zovko, Minister of Culture and Media Nina Obuljen Koržinek and her team emphasized the need for solid legislation with effective mechanisms to protect professional journalism.
Our opposition to attempts to weaken the European Media Freedom Act and the SLAPP Suppression Directive through the current trilogue negotiations was emphasized. A European-level meeting on EMFA is planned for 15 December and will deal exclusively with Article 4 (protection of sources and use of spyware against journalists). It was repeated that journalistic organizations warn that the proposal to exempt the ban on spying on journalists regarding “national security” without protecting fundamental rights ignores the critical jurisprudence of the EU Court of Justice and threatens the free work of journalists. Spyware must be banned because it gives access to an individual’s entire communications, photos, contacts and online behaviour data – without the victim’s knowledge and the credibility of sources, our access to quality journalism that supports our democratic values is at risk.
The representatives of CJA and TUCJ also warned of the intention to weaken Article 5 (Media Public Service), which foresees the introduction of protective measures against government interference and would ensure adequate and sustainable financing of media public services on a multi-year basis, as well as to enable development and adaptation to the needs of the audience and technological progress. Representatives of the Croatian authorities are urged not to weaken public services to the media and to develop robust mechanisms for protecting media pluralism.
The Minister of Culture and Media, Nina Obuljen Koržinek, emphasized that the negotiations in the trilogue are complicated but that Croatia supports building a mechanism to protect media pluralism. He believes that by the end of the mandate of this European Parliament and the Commission, it is essential to pass quality laws for the media sector. She reminded Croatia has already started some of the activities from the Directive and recommendations on SLAPP.
The last political meeting on SLAPPs is planned for November 29; representatives of journalistic organizations at a meeting in the Ministry of Culture and Media expressed concern about diluting the Directive to suppress SLAPP lawsuits in the trilogue at the EU level, with a warning that the weakening of Article 9 on early dismissal nullifying the meaning and intent of the Directive.
Legislation is essential for protecting professional, solid journalism and media pluralism. At a meeting with representatives of the ministries, the importance of building a solid system that would defend journalism as a public good and a pillar of every democratic society was highlighted.