Via its press release on December 3, the European Commission presented its European Democracy Action Plan intending to build more resilient democracies within the EU. This Plan is the product of the increasing challenges provoked to our democracies by rising extremism and perceived distance between people and politicians and its main objectives include free and fair elections, combatting disinformation, and strengthening the media.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “With the digital revolution underway, citizens must be able to make choices where views can be expressed freely. Facts have to be distinguished from fiction, and free media and civil society must be able to participate in an open debate, free from malign interference. Therefore the EU is taking action to make our democracies in the EU more resilient.”
Vice-President for Values and Transparency, Věra Jourová, said: “Democracy cannot be taken for granted; it needs to be nurtured and protected. Our plan aims at protecting and promoting the meaningful participation of citizens, empowering them to make their choices in the public space freely, without manipulation. We need to update the rules to harness the opportunities and challenges of the digital age. The plan proposes actions to increase protection of journalists and fight disinformation and interference, while fully protecting freedom of speech.”
More specifically, the measures taken in the European Democracy Action Plan revolve around three pillars:
- Promotion of free and fair elections: The Commission will propose legislation on transparency of sponsored political content (“political advertising”). The Commission will also revise the rules on the financing of European political parties.
- Strengthening media freedom and pluralism: The Commission will propose in 2021 a recommendation on the safety of journalists, drawing particular attention to threats against women journalists, and an initiative to curb the abusive use of lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs).
Tackling disinformation: The Commission will issue guidance to enhance the Code of Practice on Disinformation in spring 2021 and set up a more robust framework for monitoring its implementation.