Media pluralism is indispensable for a well-functioning democracy. Media pluralism forms one of the four pillars in the European Commission’s Rule of Law Reports. Yet, it has been unable to effectively counter illiberal trends in an increasing number of Member States, even if they are widely perceived as jeopardizing media pluralism. Contrary to other areas of the rule of law such as the independence of the judiciary, the European Commission has not brought any infringement case relating to media pluralism as a rule of law issue before the CJEU.
The European Commission justifies its legal inaction with an insufficient legal toolbox and stating that it is, in fact, making the most of the tools at its disposal. In our conference, we question this assumption and discuss existing avenues for EU legal action to protect media freedom and pluralism. The recent report on media pluralism by the Meijers Committee serves as background for this discussion. We also assess the potential of the recently proposed European Media Freedom Act, which is currently at the consultation stage. The discussion about the existing legal instruments (panel 1), in conjunction with an assessment of the proposed act (panel 2), is meant to assist the EU institutions and Member States in deciding how to respond to transgressions of media freedom within the European Union.