GFMD-LED GROUP OF 23 ORGANISATIONS URGE THE EU TO SAFEGUARD MEDIA PLURALISM

The GFMD secretariat led a campaign with 23 of its member organisations to draft a joint letter urging the EU to ensure stable funding for human rights and democracy globally as well as for journalism and media pluralism in Europe within its Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2021-2027. You can see the letter’s text in full below, or access a PDF version.

Brussels, June 28, 2018

Dear EU Heads of State and Government,

Re. EU Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027

We, members of the Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD) network, representing over 200 international, regional and local civil society groups, professional organisations, and universities at the forefront of defence for freedom of expression and support to journalism and free and independent media, would like to draw your attention to the proposed Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2021-2027 recently released by the European Commission, and urge you to ensure stable funding for human rights and democracy globally as well as for journalism and media pluralism in Europe.

The foundation of the work of GFMD members is anchored on the core principles upon which the European Union has been created: Freedom of Expression as the conditio sine qua non democracy can sustain and develop itself within the European space, as well as globally. In recent years, this has been reflected in the adoption of the EU Human Rights Guidelines on Freedom of Expression Online and Offline in 2014 and in the support to freedom of expression and media development initiatives through EU financial instruments such as EIDHR, ENI, IcSP, and IPA in the current Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2014-2020.

Many GFMD members are presently working with these unique EU financial instruments dedicated to supporting civil society, human rights, sustainable inclusive development, stabilisation and peace, and research. These instruments are essential for freedom of expression, journalism support and media development work in some of the most difficult environments and fragile states.

We would like to remind those governing on behalf of the European people that Freedom of Expression and Freedom of the Press are under enormous pressure at the moment, with a pervasive growing lack of trust in the media. Businesses interests and governments are threatening to undermine modern society. With this letter, we would like to bring to your attention the following points:

  1. We praise the announcement of the new EU budget for external action and planned investment in the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation instrument including human rights and democracy, and strongly urge you to preserve and to continue extending financial instruments that ensure adequate support for civil society organisations, journalists and media.
  2. While we appreciate the Commission’s efforts to streamline and improve the efficiency of their instruments, please allow us to remind you that it is precisely the flexibilities inherent to some of these instruments in their current form, such as the EIDHR, that have enabled the EU to create such impact through their support for human rights and democracy. Such flexibilities include the possibility to fund non-registered entities and to waive the obligation to communicate to State authorities the nature and beneficiaries of the support. As media are often private entities, they should also be eligible to receive EU funds, including grants. We therefore urge you to maintain said flexibility of the existing instruments.
  3. Free and independent journalism and media are key pillars of pluralistic debate and democratic societies. Without support for free and professional media globally and within Europe, all other investments in sustainable development, economic progress and stability currently foreseen in the MFF are at stake.

With this letter we urge you to secure that the above-mentioned comments are taken into consideration in the adoption of the MFF later this year and in 2019.

Yours sincerely,

Global Forum for Media Development and Members:

Albanian Media Institute

Center for Media Studies and Peace-building Liberia

CFI Coopération Médias

Deutsche Welle DW Akademie

European Federation of Journalists

European Journalism Centre

Ethical Journalism Network

Fojo Institute

Fondation Hirondelle

Fundacion Gabriel Garcia Marquez para el Neuvo Periodismo Ibero-americano

Global Editors Network

Free Press Unlimited

Independent Journalism Center

International Media Support

Internews Europe

IREX Europe

M ADA

Media Diversity Institute

Newsgain

Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) Journalism Consortium

Public Media Alliance

RNW Media

Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression