Balancing Act

CPJ’s Recommendations

The Committee to Protect Journalists offers the following recommendations to the EU as an institution and EU member states.

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To the EU as an institution

In its internal policy:

  1. Swiftly establish a clear, objective, and legally enforceable Rule of Law mechanism, in consultation with multiple stakeholders, to hold member states responsible for keeping to their commitments under the EU treaties, in particular under Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union on fundamental values and under Article 11 on freedom of expression and media freedom in the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
  2. Monitor the conformity of member states with the EU Charter—with a focus on freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and media pluralism—through the creation of a Copenhagen Commission composed of independent high-level experts or through advancing the mandate of the Fundamental Rights Agency.
  3. Utilize Article 7 and the suspension of voting rights against member states that break press freedom commitments as determined by the mechanism established in recommendation 2.
  4. In the review of the Data Protection Directive and the adoption of the Trade Secrets Directive, grant an exception for reporting in the public interest.
  5. Prevent data and privacy protections from being used to censor or deny access to information that is lawfully in the public domain, and institutionalize transparency practices that improve access to public documents. Provide effective protection for whistleblowers.
  6. Clarify and limit intermediary liability and refrain from turning private companies into proxy censors. Ensure that the EU Internet Forum with technology companies is transparent, involves civil society and press freedom groups, and ensures the protection of fundamental rights.
  7. Support strong encryption everywhere and prohibit cryptographic backdoor requirements.


In its foreign policy:

  1. Advocate within the U.N. for policies and norms that uphold media freedom.
  2. Make press freedom an explicit and essential element of accession negotiations. Mandate the scrapping of all media laws that unduly restrict press freedom as well as the adoption of standards in line with the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights.
  3. Scrupulously apply the EU Guidelines on Freedom of Expression online and offline and make them a criterion in the performance assessment of EU delegations and European External Action Service officials.
  4. Increase support for independent journalists and media outlets under threat by authoritarian governments or violent non-state actors. Review and renew the No Disconnect Strategy to promote Internet freedom and protect journalists, including bloggers. Strengthen coordination with individual member states to investigate crimes against journalists and expedite relocation and asylum proceedings for those under threat.
  5. Rigorously and impartially implement the human rights clauses in international agreements. Apply a clear sense of proportionality to the use of conditionality clauses in order to defend press freedom and include appropriate measures, from leveling sanctions up to suspending partnership agreements.


To EU member states

  1. Revise or repeal laws that infringe on freedom of expression and freedom of the press, in particular those pertaining to criminal libel, insult, lèse majesté, and blasphemy.
  2. Review hate speech and anti-extremism laws to ensure that they are in line with international standards and not abused to restrict independent or critical reporting.
  3. Legally prohibit mass surveillance and regulate targeted surveillance to ensure that it does not compromise journalists’ rights to privacy or the confidentiality of their sources.

The report recommendations are available in Arabic, French, German, Hungarian, Russian, Spanish, and Turkish.