Gdansk, March, 5th, 2018 (COE). Over 150 journalists, representatives of media outlets, national media regulators and press councils, as well as academics, politicians, and civil society activists gathered at the Solidarność Centre in Gdansk for a major European event. The conference “Free European Media” was organised by the European Federation of Journalists in cooperation with the Council of Europe, the Nordic Journalism Centre, the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom and the International Press Institute with the support of Polish authorities and journalists associations.

Participants examined the current status of the press freedom from several critical angles: keeping new media and independent journalism away from state control; pluralism as a factor that enables and sustains democracy; how legislation violates media freedom; and the significant role of ethical standards and self-censorship.

Patrick Penninckx, the Head of the Information Society Department addressed the audience with a message of support for the freedom of expression, specifying the growing concerns and communicating the new initiatives and tools promoted by the Council of Europe.

The conference further examined how media are affected in targeted areas in Europe, through the outcomes of the Media Pluralism Monitor and results of the Study on self-censorship. A particular attention was given to the media situation in countries where democracy is in decline or threatened, as underscored by the alerts on the Platform for the protection of journalism and the safety of journalists and as a follow-up to the Report on press freedom and media pluralism carried out by the High-Level Group delivered to the EU Commission.

Organisers intend to follow up the conference debates with a sustainable long-term agenda, starting with the launch of a debate book on conflicts between media and politics from various corners of Europe, authored by journalists from selected countries.