European Commission Vice-President Věra Jourová, who serves as commissioner for Values and Transparency, joined the 2021 IPI World Congress to discuss the EU’s efforts to better protect journalist safety.

Jourová’s address to the Congress came as the Commission released its first-ever recommendation on ensuring the protection, safety, and empowerment of journalists and media professionals in the EU.

In conversation with IPI Executive Director Barbara Trionfi, Jourová explained that although not legally binding, the recommendation aims to “push member states not to underestimate the increasing threats against journalists and take practical measures and invest in the protection of journalists”.

Jourová cited “horrifying statistics” on growing violence against journalists in the EU. This includes the recent murders of journalists in Malta, Slovakia, Greece, and the Netherlands.

“We expect member states to vigorously investigate and prosecute all criminal acts against journalists, making full use of national and European legislation”, she said.

She said the Commission had tried to be as practical as possible in drafting the document, which urges member states to involve European authorities such as Europol in investigations; provide personal protection to journalists at risk; ensure the creation of national independent support services, help lines, legal advice, psychological support, and shelters; and promote cooperation between online platforms and organizations with expertise in tackling threats against journalists; among other recommendations.

In a joint statement last month, IPI and its Media Freedom Rapid Response partners welcomed the recommendation, but underscored that the “key to the Recommendation’s success will lie in effectively following up on its outcomes and holding the member states to account if their implementation is lacking”.