Roberta Metsola appointed rapporteur for EU anti-SLAPP efforts

Roberta Metsola will be tasked with issuing a report on having EU rules to prevent SLAPP suits that threaten journalists

Roberta Metsola has been appointed rapporteur for an initiative that will see EU-wide rules against Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs)

Metsola, who was elected First Vice-President of the European Parliament last November, will be leading efforts together with German S&D MEP Tiemo Wölken to draft up a report aimed at getting a wide-reaching agreement to prevent SLAPP suits across the bloc.

The MEP described this as a potential water-shed moment for journalism in Europe.

“This can become a water-shed moment for journalism in Europe," Metsola said. "Journalists face threats of not only violence and murder but legal suits from unscrupulous actors who seek to silence media houses with the threat of vexatious lawsuits."

SLAPP suits are cross-border legal threats intended to intimidate publishers by burdening them with large sums of money.

"The consequences, particularly on smaller independent media houses are devastating and the knock on effect has a negative impact on our democracy and the public’s right to know”, said Metsola.

She added that she is looking to have a clear EU Anti-SLAPP Directive tabled by the European Commission by end of year.

"International law perspectives may prove challenging, but I am confident that we have a legal basis upon which to base our proposal,” she said.

“We want this report to have as wide a backing as possible, so it is significant that we will share the negotiation of the report between two different committees and between two different MEPs from different political groups. I look forward to working closely to get a large majority to back our proposals”, said VP Metsola.

Honoured to have been appointed to lead EU Anti-SLAPP efforts, together with S&D MEP Tiemo Wölken. We want this to be a...

Posted by Roberta Metsola on Monday, April 19, 2021

She also paid tribute to murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who had 42 legal cases pending against her by the time of her death.

"This is for her family who have to endure defending her name after many people refused to drop libel cases even after her assassination. This is for every media house, every journalist, every blogger and every NGO that have been threatened by crooked politicians, dodgy banks, corrupt corporations and those criminals with everything to lose. We will get this right, for them and for all of us.”

Last month, a pan-European anti-SLAPP coalition was set up in order to support public watchdogs facing SLAPP suits. Their website maps out a network of lawyers and legal services available to assist those affected by SLAPPs.

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