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Francisco Pinto Balsemão
Chairman, EPC
Chairman and CEO,
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Fax: +351 21 392 9788
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c/o Europe Analytica
26 Avenue Livingstone
Bte 3
B-1000 Brussels
Tel: +322 231 1299
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Heidi Lambert Communications
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< back to issues: jurisdiction and applicable law




Joint publishers' letter on Article 6 of Rome II draft Regulation - applicable law to defamation and privacy rights


Brussels, 30 September 2023

For the attention of...
Justice Counsellor
Permanent Representation of...


Dear Madam, dear Sir,

We, the undersigned publishers' organisations, are writing to you as we understand that Member States are discussing various options on article 6 (defamation and privacy rights) of the proposed Rome II Regulation, including one based on the law of the forum. As the three organisations representing Europe's newspapers and periodical press, we would like to request further consultation with the Member States before any decision is taken on this point at Council level. In parallel, discussions are just beginning to take place in the European Parliament and there is a danger that disparate positions will emerge between the two Institutions, neither of which have been discussed in any depth with the media sectors which will be most affected by the outcome.

As our previous positions have outlined, we remain of the view, recently reinforced by Commissioner Bolkestein before the European Parliament on 21 September, that as the Regulation has been proposed and justified by the European Commission as an Internal Market measure, the legal basis and approach should be that of the country of origin. In particular as regards the issue of defamation, for our sector, this is essential given that articles in the media giving rise to claims may emanate either from print or online pages. A country of origin approach is therefore the only one which a) offers legal certainty and b) is consistent with the Treaty.

We remain concerned about the impact of any other approach on the freedom of expression and on the free flow of information between EU Member States. Some Member States have expressed concerns in this respect. This is raised not only by Sweden but also by other countries like France and the UK. They have rightly considered that this issue has many more implications from the point of view of press freedom than a mere practical approach of having an instrument on private international law, and that the effect of an EU wide regulation on this freedom as protected in each Member State, represents a real risk.

Finally, we do not share the views that Art. 23§2 of the draft Regulation might be withdrawn because Art. 23§1 would be sufficient. Art. 23§2 refers to instruments which play a key-role in the strengthening of the Internal Market as they rely on an indispensable basis for its good functioning: the country of origin principle. This principle provides confidence for publishers and contributes to competitiveness, one of the key-challenges for the achievement of the Lisbon objectives. If §2 is withdrawn, it would therefore represent a step backward and a negative sign for our sector.

In the above respects, and in light of the seriousness with which we attach to this subject, we simply request that the relevant Council Working Group gives more in-depth considerations both to our concerns, which we are happy to discuss with you further, and to the fact that detailed examination of this proposal is only beginning to take place in the European Parliament.

We trust that you shall take account of our concerns. We remain at your disposal for any complementary information you may require.


The undersigned European newspapers and periodicals associations:

David Mahon - European Federation of Magazine Publishers (FAEP)
Secretary General

Angela Mills - European Publishers' Council (EPC)
Executive Director

Valtteri Niiranen - European Newspaper Publishers' Association (ENPA)


For any information, please contact:

David Mahon: - + 32 2 286 80 94
FAEP, rue d'Arlon 15
1050 Bruxelles

Angela Mills: - +32 2 231.12.99
EPC, av. Livingstone 26 Bte 3
1000 Bruxelles

Valtteri Niiranen: - + 32 2 551 01 90
ENPA, rue des Pierres, 29, Bte 8
1000 Bruxelles


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