Give the EU a system that protect its news and information space, RSF says
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the European Union (UE) to equip itself with a system to protect its news and information space. Russian disinformation before and during the war in Ukraine has prompted the EU to impose emergency sanctions. It is now essential for the EU to put in place an appropriate legal framework.
RSF urges the European Council’s heads of state and government to fill the legal vacuum with regard to propaganda and disinformation media. They could instruct the European Commission to prepare legislation giving national regulators the power to provide a proportionate and strictly regulated response to the malicious propaganda and disinformation activities of third countries that systematically flout freedom of expression.
The System for the Protection of Democratic Information Spaces proposed by RSF could be integrated into the European Media Freedom Act that the European Commission is currently preparing. This system would be designed to promote the creation of open information spaces and respect for freedom of expression, while protecting democracies on a solid legal basis, in accordance with international law on freedom of opinion and expression.
“Democracies cannot stand idly by while authoritarian regimes unload their propaganda on Europe,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “An appropriate legal framework is needed. We call on the EU to equip itself with an effective and legitimate protection system so that the globalisation of information does not favour propaganda at the expense of free and independent media – a system that promotes freedom of expression, pluralism and reliability of information at the national level. RSF’s proposals are on the table.”
In response to the propaganda from Russian state media outlets RT and Sputnik, the EU has decided, as an emergency measure, to ban the Kremlin's “media machine.” Based on the general sanctions regime, its decision – which is hard to understand and has been much criticised – instructs national media regulators to take the necessary measures to terminate broadcasting by RT and Sputnik on all channels.
RSF began outlining its proposal for a system for protecting democratic information spaces in April 2021 and completed in early February, before the start of the war in Ukraine.
This system aims to remedy the asymmetries between open and closed countries, in which the latter export their propaganda while closing themselves off from independently reported news information. It would be based on two concrete measures: firstly, equal treatment for all audio-visual media broadcasting in European territory, and secondly, a reciprocity mechanism conditioning the opening of the European public space on a reciprocal opening by third countries of their information space.