Members of the S&D Group today called on the European Commission to ensure better protection of freedom for the press and the arts, during a remote meeting organised on ‘Media and Artistic Freedom Under Attack. Europe must act now!’
In a joint statement, Petra Kammerevert MEP, S&D spokesperson on culture; Domenec Ruiz Devesa MEP; Klara Dobrev MEP; and Elena Yoncheva MEP, said:
“Media and artistic freedom are not empty phrases. They are the cornerstones of a healthy society and a functioning democracy, while the emphasis here is on functioning. Only when these two fundamental rights are filled with meaning and exercised freely can media and art act as the all-important corrective in democracy. We see, unfortunately, that attacks on the media and press have again intensified in the past year of the pandemic. Whether it is openly on the streets - or indirectly through structural changes or tax policy - media freedom is at risk across Europe and we urgently need to find effective ways to better protect the independent press and media.
“We would like to emphasise that these attacks do not only occur in one part of the EU, but are unfortunately quasi-universal phenomena. However, this is happening at very different degrees of intensity - and we see how these fundamental freedoms have been dismantled from within governments for years, as is the case in Hungary or Poland.
“But not only must the media be able to report without restriction - creatives and artists of all forms of art must also be able to express and perform their art - without fear of reprisals or anticipated self-censorship. This applies all the more to art that is directed against governments and their actions! Artistic freedom is a form of freedom of expression - and as such, its limits must be interpreted broadly. Therefore, artistic expressions, such as satire, merit particular consideration.
“The S&D Group is working across committees and files to push the European Commission to develop more this area. We have already proposed in the committee on civil liberties (LIBE) that the budget for 2022 takes into special consideration the protection of artists. We must link artistic freedom more clearly to the rule of law mechanism. Maybe it is also time for strong funding at an EU level that allows us to support artists, institutions and civil society that are constrained and hindered by a political climate.
“We know the facts, now we must act. Our event on ‘Media and Artistic Freedom Under Attack’ sounded an alarm signal. Now it’s up to the European Commission to follow up on its promise to deliver a comprehensive ‘Democracy Action Plan’ and act as guardian of the Treaties that clearly state that freedom of speech inviolable. We must make use of all tools available to rid Europe of this pandemic of censorship and attacks on the media and the arts.”