Updated at 5.33pm

MEP David Casa has written to all European Commission Presidential candidates seeking a pledge that they would introduce a Commissioner who would be responsible for press freedom and the protection of journalists.

A call for such a commissioner was made by Reporters without Frontiers and Mr Casa said he supported this request.

“Press freedom is a core value of the European Union and more must be done to safeguard it. Coordinated intimidation and attacks on journalists must be dealt with more severely and legal frameworks that allow for the harassment of investigative journalists through threats of vexatious legal action, also known as SLAPP, must be eliminated,” Mr Casa, who during this legislature campaigned for the introduction of EU legislation to counter SLAPP practices, said.

The European Union, he said, had to devote more resources for the defence of press freedom and should have the political will to address the major threats journalists faced. It should be a pioneer in the defence of these fundamental values.

Mr Casa, who as a PN MEP forms part of the European People's Party delegation within the European Parliament, took a swipe at the rival S&D's lead candidate, Frans Timmermans. 

Mr Timmermans, who in the current commission serves as vice-president for better regulation, interinstitutional relations, the rule of law and the charter of fundamental rights, had done a poor job, Mr Casa said. 

In the past five years, the Commission was slow, complacent and unwilling to take decisive action on crucial issues press freedom issues, which fell under Mr Timmermans' remit. This, Mr Casa said, had to change.


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