Today we celebrate UNESCO World Press Freedom Day. Free, diverse and independent media are essential in any democratic society because without freedom of expression and media, an informed, active and engaged citizenry is impossible. That is why press freedom is a pillar of any society. It has to be promoted and can never be taken for granted. It is thanks to the courage of many journalists that a word often neglected still has a meaning: truth.
The EU pays tribute to those journalists and media actors who have lost their lives, been imprisoned or otherwise suffered unjust consequences for exercising their right to freedom of expression. We reaffirm our commitment to promote and protect freedom of expression and freedom of the media worldwide, and to continue to promote the safety of journalists and other media workers.
Modern information and communication technologies (ICTs) are part of everyday life and provide new opportunities for the fulfilment of human rights and for social and economic development. Non-discriminatory access to information and freedom of expression for all individuals, both online and offline must be ensured and protected. The internet should remain a single, un-fragmented network, subject to the same laws and norms that apply in other areas of our day-to-day lives where individuals can benefit from their rights and from judicial remedies when those rights are infringed. These principles have been recognised in the Council Conclusions on Internet Governance of 27 November 2014 and Conclusions on Cyber Diplomacy of 11 February 2015.
The EU is committed to further strengthening international efforts aimed at the promotion of freedom of expression and welcomes the UN new special procedures mandate on the right to privacy.
Almost a year after the Council of the European Union adopted the EU Human Rights Guidelines “on freedom of expression online and offline” the EU is determined to continue to use all appropriate EU external financial instruments to further protect and promote freedom of opinion and expression and to support media freedom and pluralism.