Freedom of expression and freedom of the media, offline and online, are basic preconditions for a democratic and diverse society. Media play a key role in providing accurate, reliable information to foster people’s understanding and ensure informed participation in public debate. The Council of Europe promotes an enabling environment for freedom of expression, underpinned by legal guarantees for independence and diversity of media and for safety of journalists and others working in the media.

The Media and Internet division works on a range of freedom of expression issues, such as the protection of journalism and the safety of journalists, building a favourable environment for quality journalism, defamation issues, gender equality in the media, and the fight against hate speech. The division issues publications on relevant topics and organises activities, such as conferences, seminars and other events to foster discussions on how to best preserve freedom of expression and information in Europe, also assisting the work of the Steering Committee on Media and Information Society (CDMSI). Its actions are based on the case law of the European Court of Human Rights and other key legal texts such as the Tromsø Convention on access to official documents and include a combination of standard-setting activities, technical assistance through cooperation programmes and monitoring activities. Input from civil society is particularly important and there are various ways for NGOs to get involved.

Steering Committee on Media and Information Society – CDMSI

The CDMSI steers the Council of Europe’s work in the fields of freedom of expression, media, digital governance and other information society-related issues and oversees work on personal data protection. It advises the Committee of Ministers and takes part in standard-setting activities on all questions within its area of expertise, including freedom, independence, pluralism and diversity of media; safety of journalists; support for professional journalism, protection and promotion of human rights, with an emphasis on freedom of expression, both online and offline.

 Focus 2022-2025

Countering the spread of online mis-and disinformation through fact-checking and platform design; use of digital tools including artificial intelligence for journalism/by journalists; sustainable media financing; strategic lawsuits against public participation; media and information literacy tools to help adult media users understand the digital media environment and navigate their media choices; role of social media and other digital platforms in public debate and the formation of public opinion; safety of journalists; hate speech; defamation in the media

 Civil society involvement 

  • Participant: Conference of INGOs (CINGO)
  • Observers
  • Consultation with civil society, either through direct participation in expert committees, or through dedicated hearings or written consultations