RSF urges French Interior Minister to abandon the national security exception in European Media Freedom Act

In the run-up to the final trilogue on 15 December, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has communicated to the French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin its concern about France’s insistence on maintaining the national security exception in Article 4 of the European Media Freedom Act (EMFA).

For more than a year, France has been scheming with European institutions to ensure that the first European law on media freedom – the EMFA –  includes an explicit national security exception in the ban on surveillance of journalists.

Aside from Finland and Sweden, the French position is supported by countries where press freedom has faced major setbacks and the authorities may have harassed journalists – Hungary, Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Malta.

“This coalition of dunces and good students in the European press freedom classroom raises questions. France’s leading role in maintaining this provision, round after round of negotiations, could well become a thorn in Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin’s side and constitute a political error, beyond the provision’s harmful effects. We call on him to abandon the Article 4.4.

Christophe Deloire
RSF secretary-general

The EMFA was designed to protect and promote media freedom within the European Union, but this provision could be used to arbitrarily restrict press freedom and obstruct journalists’ work. RSF recognises that governments have a legitimate interest in taking measures to safeguard national security, but calls on Darmanin to undertake to drop his insistence on including a national security exception in the EMFA.

RSF has been pressuring for the withdrawal of this provision in its public statements and its advocacy behind the scenes in both Brussels and Paris.

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