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MEPs urged to vote for press freedom: Rome II vote, 18 January, Strasbourg

14 January 2024

As MEPs prepare for next week’s Second Reading Plenary vote on the controversial Rome II regulation (on applicable law to non-contractual obligations), the European Publishers Council (EPC) has co-signed a letter by publishers and journalists’ organisations to express serious concerns relating to the issue of violation of privacy and rights related to the personality, including defamation.

The letter calls for:

  • A complete exclusion of violation of privacy and rights related to the personality, including defamation, from the scope of Rome II.
  • No specific reference to violation of privacy and rights related to the personality, including defamation, in the review clause.

EPC Executive Director Angela Mills Wade said: "It has been recognised by academics and lawyers that an absence of a rule in the Rome II Regulation does not seem to present difficulties for practitioners. Indeed in practice, media and journalists are quite familiar with their national law which provides legal certainty for their daily work.

"We have consistently told the European Commission, Council and Parliament that the number of cross-border cases in this area is insignificant. Consequently, the objectives of Article 65 of the EC Treaty concerning judicial cooperation in civil matters having cross-border implications and for the proper functioning of the Internal Market cannot be fulfilled. For these reasons, we question the legal basis of Rome II and the proposed measure on violation of privacy and rights related to the personality.

"In this context, we believe that in the absence of a rule which protects editorial independence, an exclusion of violation of privacy and rights related to the personality, including defamation, is the most realistic and politically viable option, compared to other proposals which could seriously undermine press freedom."

EP Rapporteur Diana Wallis’ compromise amendment, which brings the privacy and defamation article back into the draft regulation, has already been tested at the First Reading stage but was rejected by the Commission and by numerous Member States at the Common Position stage.

Publishers and Journalists’ organisations are therefore strongly urging MEPs to go for the most politically viable option that affords the press the most protection.

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

Note to editors:

Signatories to the letter:

  • Valtteri Niiranen - European Newspaper Publishers’ Association (ENPA)
    Director
  • Angela Mills Wade - European Publishers’ Council (EPC)
    Executive Director
  • Aidan White - European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
    General Secretary
  • David Mahon - European Federation of Magazine Publishers (FAEP)
    Director
  • Anne Bergman-Tahon - Federation of European Publishers (FEP)
    Director
  • Alain Chastagnol - Presse-Liberté
    Secrétaire Général