EU Ambassador: Full compliance of anti-defamation amendments with freedom of expression standards still needs to be ensured

Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Albania, Ambassador Luigi Soreca, commented on Monday on the recent draft amendments to the Law on Media and Online Communications unveiled by the government to curb online defamation. “The European Commission had initially asked for these initiatives to be fully aligned with EU’s Audio-visual Media Services and e-Commerce directives. Although the major previous concerns related to the EU acquis appear to have been addressed, full compliance of the draft amendments with freedom of expression standards still needs to be ensured.

The European Commission shares the concerns of other international organizations, related to the lack of legal certainty and to the widening of the scope of competence of the Audiovisual Media Authority to include online media regulation – as this may lead to the adverse effect on freedom of expression. When it comes to tackling disinformation, while we share the Albanian authorities’ concerns with regard to disinformation, the Commission recommends approaches that are less severe, based on a self-regulation approach.

This is the approach that the European Commission proposes in its Communication on Tackling Online Disinformation. We consider that European and international standards in the area of freedom of expression and media freedom are key for the development of strong and pluralistic media, and should be taken into full account by the Albanian authorities.

We also encourage the Albanian authorities to pursue the consultation process with the media community on the draft amendments, while taking into account the expertise of the international actors, thus ensuring a future positive impact of the legislative package on freedom of expression in Albania,” Ambassador Soreca said. He made the above remarks while attending a ceremony held at the Europe House on Monday to deliver the EU Awards for investigative journalism in Albania to four winning journalists