Press Publishers urge MEPs to uphold media freedom by amending draft EU Directive on Trade Secrets
European organisations representing newspaper and magazine publishers have raised the alarm over the potential impact on media freedom of a draft new law on Trade Secrets. The draft EU Directive on Trade Secrets is scheduled to be voted in the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament tomorrow, based on a report by Constance Le Grip (EPP, France.)
The European Newspaper Publishers’ Association (ENPA) and the European Magazine Media Association (EMMA) have called on MEPs to ensure that the Directive does not affect journalistic reporting and investigation of business activities, in cases where the information involved could be considered to be a “trade secret.”
While the draft Directive rightly foresees in Article 4(a) an exception for the purposes of freedom of expression, the term “legitimate use” for journalists is too ambiguous. European press publishers’ organisations have therefore underlined the need for this exception to provide sufficient legal certainty, so that the media sector can continue to fulfil its essential role of informing the public.
For this reason, the organisations representing European press publishers called unanimously for the deletion of the word “legitimate” in the latest proposed compromise text of Article 4(a). They stressed that it should be for a judge to evaluate whether any use of the right to freedom of expression by a journalist is “legitimate” and not for the press to self-censor.
Furthermore, as interpretations of what is “legitimate” may be construed narrowly, there is a risk that journalists could therefore be subject to all the types of sanctions provided in the Directive, such as payment penalties, resulting in a chilling effect on the press.
Finally, it is also important to ensure that Member States may expand the scope of the exception foreseen in Article 4(a). This would give the possibility for Member States to provide further protection on media freedom in accordance with their national and constitutional rules.
ENPA and EMMA therefore urged the European Parliament to support an exception for freedom of expression that is strong and clear enough to guarantee that the Directive on Trade Secrets will not hamper media freedom.
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The European Magazine Media Association, is the unique and complete representation of Europe’s magazine media, which is today enjoyed by millions of consumers on various platforms, encompassing both paper and digital formats.www.magazinemedia.eu
The European Newspaper Publishers’ Association (ENPA) is the largest representative body of newspaper publishers across Europe. ENPA advocates for 16 national associations across 13 European countries, and is a principal interlocutor to the EU institutions and a key driver of media policy debates in the European Union.www.enpa.eu