European Centre for Press and Media Freedom sets up as a co-operative

A European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) was set up in Leipzig on 25 July as a non-profit European co-operative society. The centre was founded by...

A European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) was set up in Leipzig on 25 July as a non-profit European co-operative society. The centre was founded by 20 journalist associations, publishing houses, academic institutions and media rights experts from across Europe.

The co-operative will work to unite Europe’s media freedom community as well as address press freedom violations in EU member states and beyond.

“The Centre is meant to be the lighthouse of press freedom in Europe. It will bring together different initiatives and promote closer co-operation among European activists. We will strive for common standards of media freedom across Europe,” said Henrik Kaufholz, head of the Danish investigation initiative SCOOP and chair of the board of ECPMF.

ECPMF will examine and research violations of press freedom and report these to the public and to Brussels. “Many violations of media freedom are under the radar of European politicians,” said board member Ljiljana Smajlović, who also heads the Serbian Journalists’ Union.

Hans-Ulrch Jörges, editor in chief for Special Affairs at the publishing house Gruner+Jahr, added: “We are very happy about the success of this initiative that everyone has worked very hard to achieve. This European Co-operative Society can operate independently across the whole of Europe due to its special structure.”

The centre was developed with support from the Media Foundation of Sparkasse Leipzig, after the European Commission called for proposals to address the challenges faced by European journalists. The creation of the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom was one of the projects selected by the EC, which also awarded a grant for 2015/2016 of €749,000.

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The project partners are Journalismfund.eu, the Institute of European Media Law, Journalists’ and monitoring organisation Ossigeno per l’Informazione based in Rome, Think tank and online journal Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso and South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO).

Stephan Seeger, managing director of the Leipzig Sparkasse Media Foundation, said: “Leipzig, as the nucleus of the Peaceful Revolution of 1989, is the ideal location to establish the ECP. Tens of thousands of Leipzig citizens protested against the communist state and demanded freedom of the press. In addition, the Media Campus – located in walking distance – with the latest communication technology and flexible room solutions offers optimal conditions to host the centre and to organise its workshops, seminars and meetings.”

The city of Leipzig, along with the German Foreign Ministry and the Media Foundation of Sparkasse Leipzig, are also supporting the initiative financially. The project partners have met with Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament as part of a discussion that brought together experts on press freedom, prominent journalists and media policy researchers.

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