European Ministers responsible for Media and Information Society have agreed to carry out a number of priority actions to tackle the most pressing challenges to freedom of expression, including the decline in the safety of journalists and the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and of massive digitalisation in the media and information environments on freedom of expression. At the conclusion of a Council of Europe Ministerial Conference held on 10 and 11 June, the Ministers adopted a Final Declaration and four resolutions covering areas where the Council of Europe will focus its efforts to protect freedom of expression in the next years: digital technologies, safety of journalists, the changing media and information environment, and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on freedom of expression.
Recalling that violence against journalists and other media actors constitutes an attack on democracy, the ministers pledged to make this problem a political priority and expressed serious concern about the prevailing impunity of such attacks. They invited the Council of Europe to prepare guidance for the drafting of national action plans on the safety of journalists and other media actors to be implemented by members states and to carry out a comprehensive campaign at European level to promote the protection of journalism and the safety of journalists, in addition to other measures.
The Ministers committed to reaching out to all actors involved in the design, development and deployment of digital technologies and AI tools for the creation, moderation and distribution of online content to develop co-regulation or regulation - including through legally binding standards where appropriate- to that ensure freedom of expression is respected. Furthermore, they pledged to create the necessary regulatory conditions for ensuring that automated processes for creating and disseminating news, including through tools such as Natural Language Processing, robo-journalism and algorithmically prepared newsfeeds, be used in full respect of the right to freedom of expression. They also called on all actors to pay more attention to marginalised groups structurally excluded from receiving news and at risk of receiving a less diverse information offer.
Jointly organised by the Council of Europe and the Cypriot government, the ministerial conference brought together over 40 ministers and State secretaries, and 350 participants from national governments, international organisations, civil society, media and academia.