WP1: Fundamental Rights as a Basis for an Integrated Approach to EU Media Law

Leader: Prof. Dr. Tarlach McGonagle

Work package 1 examines the challenges facing independent media and quality journalism from the perspective of fundamental rights and explores rights-based regulatory and policy solutions to overcome these challenges.

Fundamental rights increasingly inform academic, law and policy thinking on the importance of quality journalism and reliable news in contemporary Europe. Since the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union has acquired legal force, the European Union has been using fundamental rights more consciously and explicitly in its regulatory and other initiatives. A fundamental rights driven approach to media law and its safeguards for independent news (sources) is necessary in increasingly digitized democratic societies. Freedom of expression, independent media, critical journalism and public debate generally are all under pressure due to threats and violence against journalists; vexatious lawsuits (including SLAPPs) targeting journalists, the media and NGOs; concentrations of media ownership; political interference in media and editorial independence; massive losses of sales and advertising revenue; the dominant positions of key global platforms in the information ecosystem; the scale and speed of online disinformation. When framed in terms of fundamental rights, these disparate threats to a vibrant public debate can be addressed in a coherent and systemic way. States parties to the European Convention on Human Rights (including all EU member states) have a positive obligation to foster a favourable environment for freedom of expression and public debate, including online. This has far-reaching ramifications for the application of existing regulation and for the elaboration of future regulation. WP1 will examine the challenges facing independent media and news and explore a range of sustainable, rights-based regulatory and policy solutions to overcome those challenges.