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Europe’s publishers and journalists in joint plea to protect press freedom in Rome II vote

Key vote in Legal Affairs Committee, 20 December

15 December 2006

The EPC is joining other publishing and journalists’ organisations in its call for the European Parliament to vote for the exclusion of violation of privacy and rights related to the personality (Article 6) from the Rome II regulation. The Legal Affairs Committee will vote on this draft Regulation on applicable law to non-contractual obligations.

EPC Executive Director Angela Mills Wade said: "Exclusion would be the most realistic option for the media, journalists and citizens since both the Commission and the Council rejected Parliament’s amendments tabled at First Reading that if accepted would have provided legal certainty for publishers and journalists."

The first reading amendment departed from the pure country of origin principle and called for a country of principal publication approach. In other words, anyone with a defamation case would have to apply the jurisdiction of the main country of publication of the media. Publishers and journalists would prefer a pure country of origin of the media approach but the amendment was an acceptable compromise and preferable to the country of choice of the complainant which was originally tabled. The Council text currently excludes Article 6 altogether.

Angela continued: "by re-tabling this rejected amendment we fear that this will open the door to further and unacceptable compromise at Council level that would jeopardise press freedoms. It seems to us highly unlikely that Member States will agree to Parliament’s suggestion of a country of publication rule after the controversy of the debate last time around. Exclusion therefore seems the only politically viable option for journalists and the media. What matters to us above all is legal certainty and the protection from the possibility that every time we go to print we may be coming up against the laws or regulations of any one of the 25 Member States.

"We also question the legal base for the inclusion of privacy and defamation in Rome II unless based on an internal market approach which provides the only justification for EU legislation in matters relating to the media. Also the insignificant number of cross-border cases in this field means that intervention does not in any case fulfil the criteria of the proper functioning of the internal market."

For more information, please contact Angela Mills Wade on Tel: +44 1865 310732 or Heidi Lambert, Tel: +44 1245 476 265.

Note to editors:

A letter has been sent to MEPs in advance of the Second Reading Plenary vote by:

  • European Publishers Council (EPC)
  • European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
  • European Federation of Magazine Publishers (FAEP)
  • European Newspaper Publishers’ Association (ENPA)
  • Federation of European Publishers (FEP)