A European Democracy Action Plan which is due to be adopted by the end of this year will include the European Commission’s response on how to tackle SLAPP matters, commission vice-president Věra Jourová has promised.

The commitment was given in a detailed reply the commissioner sent to a group of MEPs who demanded action against cross-border law suits filed against journalists – the so called Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP).

The MEPs, who form the Media Working Group, wrote to Jourová on May 28, demanding action. Among them were Maltese Nationalist MEPs Roberta Metsola and David Casa.

They insisted that EU action was needed to protect the work and freedom of journalists in their line of work, as well as offer adequate legal protection for activists, human right defenders, academics and trade unionists.

The commissioner agreed, saying in her reply that: “Journalists and civil society organisations should use their expertise and time in being the needed watchdogs for our democracies, not in fighting abusing litigation.”

A number of Maltese media organisations and journalists have faced libel suits in foreign jurisdictions in recent years.

Among others, Satabank co-owner Christo Georgiev has sued Times of Malta in Bulgaria over alleged damage to his reputation. 

Jourová agreed with the MEPs that the EU response to these tactics should include a revamp of the Brussels I and Rome II Regulations, in order to address jurisdiction rules and end the possibility of forum shopping across the union.
She said the regulations were being reviewed with a view to including defamation within them.

Read the commissioner’s letter by clicking on pdf below.   

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