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30 Nov 2023

European Commission

Commission welcomes political agreement on countering abusive lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP)

"Commission welcomes political agreement on countering abusive lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP)", 30 Nov 2023

The European Commission welcomes the provisional political agreement reached between the European Parliament and the Council today on new EU rules to protect those targeted with strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP), such as journalists, rights defenders or civil society organisations.

As proposed by the Commission in April 2022, the Directive creates a system of powerful procedural safeguards for cross-border SLAPP cases...

When the new Directive enters into force, for the first time there will be a binding European legal instrument against strategic lawsuits against public participation...

The new rules will include:

[T]he early dismissal of manifestly unfounded claims;remedies against abusive court proceedings including the full award of costs and penalties or other appropriate measures;

[P]rotection against third country judgments which will not be recognised or enforced in the EU.

This Directive forms a package together with the Commission's horizontal Recommendation on anti-Slapp, which was adopted in 2022...

Next steps

The European Parliament and the Council will now have to formally adopt the political agreement.


The European Democracy Action Plan, adopted in December 2020, announced a series of concrete initiatives to support and safeguard media freedom and pluralism. One of the initiatives announced was a measure to protect journalists and civil society organisations against SLAPPs...

The prevalence of SLAPPs is a matter of serious concern in some Member States, as identified by the 2020 and 2021 Rule of Law Reports. Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) partners documented 626 press freedom violations in the EU in 2021, including widespread SLAPPs, affecting 1,063 people or media entities in 30 countries.

A tragic example of the use of SLAPPs is the journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia who was facing 43 lawsuits at the time of her assassination in 2017. The aim of SLAPP lawsuits is not to access justice but to harass, intimidate and silence defendants with  the financial pressure and stress resulting from lenghty court proceedings...

Journalists are not the only targets; human rights defenders, civil society organisations and others, including those working on the environment, also face SLAPPs.

For More Information

Draft Directive on protecting persons who engage in public participation from manifestly unfounded or abusive court proceedings (“Strategic lawsuits against public participation”).