Media Action Plan and Democracy Action Plan: NEWS and coalition building

Media Action Plan and Democracy Action Plan: NEWS and coalition building

The EU’s Media Action Plan and Democracy Action Plan were unveiled today: there is a strong momentum to support a resilient democracy infrastructure, and a healthier media sector with more capacities to innovate.
Rebalancing the media ecosystem is needed. This notably takes a clear vision for the media sector. Plus using to the full existing competition tools, and also strengthening them.

In today’s Media Action Plan and Democracy Action Plan, the European Commission acknowledged the importance of NEWS and the safety of journalists. It is an important first step in rebalancing the news ecosystem. With the News bundle initiative, NEWS finally got its own visible label, like MEDIA. This follows up the request of 42 MEPs earlier this year (EU leaders must stand up to protect the news media sector) and supported by Europe’s MediaLab. Under the same NEWS heading, the governance structure of the European News Media Forum will help better coordination of the sector.
Rather than just bundling existing initiatives the Media Action Plan goes further, regarding recovery and transformation of the media sector:
– fostering European Media Talents,
– creating a European Media Data Space to support innovation in both content production and business models,
– procuring a periodical Media Industry Outlook to analyze trends,
– introducing an Interactive Tool to facilitate access of news media organisations to funds can only be welcomed.

These Action Plans should be complemented by a “smart mix” of measures in the Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act, with existing and new competition tools, to rebalance the information ecosystem. Fast implementation would make the media sector healthier, and strengthen the ‘democracy infrastructure’, well ahead of the next European elections.

Marc SundermannSenior Fellow, Europe’s Media Lab (

Christophe LeclercqChairman, Europe’s MediaLab (



1. Overall Impressions: 

The European Commission has adopted today a first-ever promising “Action Plan for Europe’s Media in the Digital Age” to support its Recovery and Transformation. 

It is adopted jointly with the “Action Plan for European Democracy” and it will be aligned with the Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act (unveiled on December 15th).

It should contribute to a positive momentum for the media ecosystem, provided that:

   – it is complemented by a “smart mix” of legislative and voluntary measures in the Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act, strengthening existing competition tools to rebalance the digital ecosystem.

   – the “News Media European Ecosystem” gets finally a governance structure with the other public and private Stakeholders: European Media Forum that will be established by the Commission in the first Semester of 2021. This governance structure should contribute to the preparation and discussions in this Forum, to ensure a multi-stakeholder involvement in the Media Action Plan’s implementation.

   – a real and useful vision is defined by this Forum for a competitive and more transparent and responsible European News Media Ecosystem, capable of providing European citizens with quality, independent and democratic content.

2. Main elements of the MAP: 

The MAP incorporates actions suggested by several MEPs in cooperation with Europe’s MediaLab:

– a NEWS Bundle Initiative regrouping all support measures for the news media sector: better access to finance, capacity building, collaborative transformation for investors and media and a European News Media Forum.

This is in line with our recommendation: regrouping media-related projects under one brand (“NEWS”) and a proposal by 42 MEPs in April: EU leaders must stand up to protect the news media sector

– an Interactive Tool to facilitate the access of the organisations of the Media Ecosystem to the Recovery Financial Instruments included in the Recovery and Resilience EU Package and in the National Recovery and Resilience Plans

 a European Media Data Space to foster the digital transformation of the sector, cross-border collaborations and  enhance online discovery of quality content, as well as the publication, every two years, of a “European Media Outlook”, to analyze periodically media trends

– measures to foster European Media talents, via mentoring programmes and boot-camps for young media professionals

Innovation training is also a core activity of Europe’s MediaLab through the Stars4Media programme.


(read the press release)

1. Overall impressions.

Building on its 2018 Action Plan against Disinformation and its package of measure to secure free and fair elections, the European Commission has set out an ambitious agenda to strengthen democratic resilience, with measures to :

– Promote free and fair elections and strong democratic participation, including  legislative proposals to regulate political advertising and the use of microtargeting in a political context, and to increase transparency of funding for European political parties

– Support free and independent Media

– Counter disinformation

2. Main media-related elements of the EDAP:

The overall goal is to reinforce freedom, independence and pluralism in many of the Media Ecosystem components like journalists, the owners and financing bodies and the political authorities and institutions. The most relevant measures related to media are:

– strengthening the Code of Practice on disinformation, notably by supporting visibility of reliable information of public interest and maintaining a plurality of views. Proposed measures include the development of accountability standards (co-created benchmarks), improved access to platforms’ data for researchers and fact-checkers, and requirements for recommender and content ranking systems to provide users with access to indicators of the trustworthiness of sourcesOur recommendation: adjusting platforms’ algorithms using trust indicators to promote quality content 

– a recommendation on the safety of journalists, with a specific attention to female journalists, taking into account the new online threats.

– an initiative to protect journalists and Civil Society NGOs against abusive use of lawsuits against public participation in matters of public interest

– a wider involvement of journalists in the structured dialogue which will take place within the European Media Forum to be established in the first semester of 2021.

– promoting closer cooperation between national media councils, self-regulatory bodies and networks of journalists to foster EU-wide journalistic partnerships and standards.

– promoting transparency within the whole Media Ecosystem in relation to the ownership of the media groups and with the fair allocation of state advertising in the different media, via the new Media Ownership Monitor.

Governance & outreach
Europe’s MediaLab considers organising the Media4Europe conference in February or March 2021. This policy debate with key stakeholders and policymakers to follow up on the Media Action Plan will focus on policy solutions to rebalance the media ecosystem, consider the News Media Forum, and address practical media innovation and industry platforms issues. Questions are welcome.

Don’t hesitate to share our tweets related to these two Action Plans