Fundamental Rights and the Rule of Law – Media freedom and access to information

Jukka Ahtella, Vice President of the FRRL Group

"The 4th estate, the media, has been a cornerstone of democratic societies, and a strong guarantee against abuse of power. Therefore, the loss of media freedom weakens our democracies. This is why the EESC and the Group on Fundamental Rights and Rule of Law are committed to promote media freedom as a way of strengthening our European Values and our democracies."

Question: What is the main concern for the media regarding the current state of fundamental rights and the rule of law?

Christophe Leclercq, Founder of EURACTIV media network and chair of Foundation EURACTIV

"I'm sure others will address the legal framework and political interference; I would like to focus on two other points, which are related. One is the economic sustainability of the media sector – having journalists who are free but with no jobs, is not a solution. And secondly, the influence of the oligarchs. And why do the oligarchs get in? Because the media is cheap: you can buy political influence for a very low price. So working on the economic sustainability will also keep the oligarchs at bay.

Question: What is your view on digital technologies and the freedom of expression and information?

It's fantastic for democracy, it has been a great boost for transparency, but it also has its downsides, in terms of spreading fake news and poor advertising etc., so I think the answer is to regulate. Not to censor fake news etc, but to regulate the platforms and to make them more responsible. On the one hand you have the media which is highly regulated – often self-regulation – on the other hand you have the telecoms infrastructures which are unregulated, and we need to define something in between, something like systemic publishing platforms, so that Google and Facebook would not set the laws for themselves but be responsible for the quality of their content."

Arno Metzler, President of the Diversity Europe Group

 We need to use transparency to make sure that a broad majority of the population is aware and ready to defend the values of fundamental rights and the rule of law.

For a culture of fundamental rights in Europe

Rule of law, Rights for all.