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The EU has always been very vocal in defending and protecting freedom of expression and qualitative information. In its Declaration, the High Representative Federica Mogherini stressed: While bearing the great responsibility to guarantee checked and correct news to the public, free, diverse and independent media are at the very same basis of a pluralistic and open society. Investigative journalism fulfils a necessary watchdog role that assists the public in holding governments and institutions, at all level, accountable for their actions and obligations. However, we see more and more attempts to curb the space for free media, also by systematically undermining their credibility, and too many journalists have lost their lives or have put their lives at risk for having exposed inconvenient truths.
The exposure of citizens to large scale disinformation, including misleading or outright false information, is a major challenge worldwide. In December 2018, the EU adopted the Action Plan against Disinformation. The Action Plan sets out measures that should allow strengthening EU's capabilities to better detect, analyse and expose disinformation. It also identifies ways to come up with coordinated response to disinformation, raise awareness about its negative impact, mobilise the private sector and reinforce EU's positive communications in the priority regions.
Other actions include the EU's Code of Conduct for Online platforms, investing in fact-checking as well as Media and Information Literacy. In March 2019 the first ever European Media Literacy Week was organised with initiatives and events in Brussels and in Member States.
Since 2014 the EU has been implementing the EU Guidelines on Freedom of Expression Online and Offline. Through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), the EU supports journalists, media actors and other human rights activists defending freedom of expression who are at risk. With its Media4Democracy programme, the EU helps its Delegations worldwide implement the Guidelines. The EU also supports the work of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression.