European Centre for Press and Media Freedom

The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) is a non-profit organisation that was founded in Leipzig, Germany, 2015. It operates on the basis of  the European Charter on Freedom of the Press and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

 

The vision of the Centre is a society where media freedom enables open discourse and everyone can seek, receive and impart information.

 

ECPMF’s mission is to promote, preserve and defend media freedom. We do this by monitoring violations, providing practical support and engaging diverse stakeholders across Europe.

 

The history of ECPMF can be told in four steps:

 

History

 

In 2009 Hans-Ulrich Jörges,  then chief editior of the stern magazine, initiated the European Charter on Freedom of the Press. It defines in ten paragraphs what is required in order to protect a democratic public sphere. The document was signed by 48 editors-in-chief and leading journalists from all over Europe.

The signing of the Charter at the Gruner + Jahr publishing house in Hamburg May 25th 2009. Photo: Gruner + Jahr

The text of the Charter and the names of the signatories were publicised in several languages on a dedicated website: www.pressfreedom.eu. The signed documents were handed over to the European Commission in Brussels on and to the Council of Europe in Luxembourg. The goal was was to assert the Charter’s validity across Europe and to make its adoption a pre-condition in EU accession negotiations.

Hans-Ulrich Jörges of  stern magazine hands over the Charter to Commissioner Viviane Reding in Brussels, June 9th 2009. Photo: EU Commission.

To safeguard the Charter’s effectiveness the initiators seeked to found a watchdog institute. In the European Parliament former president Martin Schulz (Socialists and Democrats), Elmar Brok (European People’s Parties) and Alexander Graf Lambsdorff (ALDE, the Liberal group)  gave their political backing to the idea. The Media Foundation of  the Sparkasse Leipzig agreed to provide startup funding and steer the development of such an organisation. Eventually supporters from across Europe – academics, trades unions, investigative journalism organisations, media industry leaders, campaigning and aid organisations – gathered in Leipzig and founded the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom as a European Co-operative (SCE)

Voting at the founding assembly in Leipzig, on June 24th 2015.
Voting at the founding assembly in Leipzig, on June 24th 2015. Photo: ECPMF/Lamm

The initial financing of ECPMF was provided by the European Commission, the Free State of Saxony, the City of Leipzig and the Media Foundation of the Sparkasse Leipzig. Still today the European Commission is the main funder. Meanwhile the Co-operative has 39 members and roughly a dozen staff members. The Centre is embedded in a pan-European network of freedom of expression organisations and together they undertake major projects such as the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) mechanism and the IJ4EU grant.

Statement

Georgia: ECPMF saddened by death of Alexandr Lashkarava

The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECMPF) is saddened by the death of Georgian TV camera operator Alexandr Lashkarava. Last week, far-right assailants severely beat him while he was covering attacks on LGBTQI+ activists in Tbilisi. A few days later, on 10 July, he was found dead at his home by his mother.

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Statement

Albania: Concern after government ally elected to head key media regulator

The Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) today expresses deep concern about the future impartiality and independence of Albania’s Audiovisual Media Authority (AMA) following the election of a close associate of the ruling Socialist Party to head the media regulator.

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Statement

Belarus: Onslaught on free press continues unabatedly

The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) remains highly concerned by the continuing onslaught on independent media in Belarus, which appears to have taken yet another turn for the worse this week. We reiterate our call on the authorities of Belarus to immediately and unconditionally release all arrested journalists, media workers and political prisoners.

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