Henrik Kaufholz  + Hans-Ulrich JörgesPress and media freedom is under attack. Not only in authoritarian states like Azerbaijan and countries in transition like Macedonia but also in countries with strong democratic constitutions like Germany and long democratic traditions like the United Kingdom.

The new European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) is founded by 25 organizations from all over Europe to stop this development. The basis for our work is the European Charter signed by 48 editors-in-chief and leading journalists.

The ECPMF will unite media, press organizations and academia to counter attacks on press and media freedom both nationally and internationally. We will establish a database of media law in Europe and of all attacks on it, we will organize working groups to support other national and international organizations advocating media freedom, we will support national media associations and individuals fighting for freedom of the press and media and we will support individual journalists who are harassed by the authorities.

The ECPMF was established 24th of June 2015 in Leipzig (Executive Board & Supervisory Board) and had its first conference in October 2015. The second conference will take place 6-7 October 2016. Please find the programme and registration here.

You are also welcome to join the ECPMF and you can sign up here.

Henrik Kaufholz (Chairman)
Hans-Ulrich Jörges (Vice chairman)


After years of preparation 25 representatives of journalists associations, publishing houses, academic institutions, trade unions and media rights experts from 16 countries met at the 24th of June 2015 in Leipzig/Germany and founded the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF). The new organisation is in the process of being established as an independent non-profit European Co-operative Society (SCE). The ECPMF conceives of itself as a pan-European organisation of journalists with the goal of procuring the application of the European Charter on Freedom of the Press throughout Europe. The centre helps shaping a common European media space and supports, defends, elaborates and expands pan-European media freedom.


Voting at the founding assembly. Source: ECPMF

The ECPMF is constituted democratically and is politically independent as a non-profit European Co-operative Society (SCE). The work of the ECPMF is based on thorough, objective and professional analysis based on high research standards.

In the spirit of solidarity the European Co-operative creates a network for the otherwise very fragmented media and journalism community. The centre moderates the member network consisting of individuals, academic bodies, unions, investigative journalist organisations, media industry, campaigning and aid organisations etc. The cooperative will support and coordinate the activities of its members. Together with local and international members and partners it organizes solidarity – covering the continent from Portugal to Russia and from Norway to Malta. 

Genossenschaft Partner Infographik 2

Source: ECPMF

The ECPMF will work as a central registration office for violations of press freedom, and as a central contact point for organisations and individuals who need contacts, analyses and information regarding press freedom in Europe. Violations of press freedom are observed and researched by regional editors and registered in a central data base - the Press Freedom Ressource Centre. Also scientific analysis about press freedom in Europe will be collected systematically.

ECPMF Structure

Structure of the ECPMF

The activities of the ECPMF and its members range from “journalists in residence”, diplomatic efforts, international petitions, fact finding missions, campaigning, rapid response forces, legal aid, to legislative initiatives. The centre will also award the European Journalism Prize and offer training and education in the near future. We set up all our activities in close cooperation with our members and partners. 


ECPMF – Europe’s newest Co-op

The new organisation is in the process of being established as an independent non-profit European Co-operative Society (SCE). It is democratically organized and will be legally allowed to operate in all 28 EU countries. It gets automatically an external auditing by the Federation of Co-operatives (Genossenschaftsverband) every year.

Co-operatives exist across the globe in many different forms. They are part of a movement that began in the North of England in 19th century when poor, hungry weavers and shoemakers decided to pool their money and buy food together from wholesalers, then re-sell it at fair prices. The first co-operators were the Rochdale Pioneers.

Today there are thousands of co-operatives, because they are a flexible, democratic business model with a strong track record of sustainability. The ECPMF is built on the European model, and since it is based in Leipzig, it is registered in Germany and works under the umbrella of the Federation of German Co-operatives.

Under the terms of the statute, anyone or any organization that agrees with the aims of the ECPMF, works professionally in the media and promises to keep the rules in the Codex can become a member. More membership information.

Founding Assembly BW

Participants at the founding assembly. Source: ECPMF 

Rochdale Pioneers

The Rochdale Pioneers foundersof the retail cooperative movement. Source: Co-operative News



Media Freedom is one of the key values and ideals of democratic societies in the world. It must be defended at all times because it is constantly under pressure and attack. To ensure this freedom in Europe 48 editors-in-chief and leading journalists from all over the continent convened in 2009 and formulated the European Charter on Freedom of the Press. The goal of the initiative was to assert the charter’s validity across Europe and to make its adoption a condition in EU accession negotiations. The Charter was handed over to the European Commission in Brussels on June 9th 2009 and to the Council of Europe in Luxembourg on October 26th 2009.

ecfp unterzeichnung

Editors and leading journalists sign the European Charter on Freedom of the Press in 2009. Source: Gruner+Jahr


Charter is handed over

In Brussels, the Charter is handed over by Hans-Ulrich Jörges, Co-editor of German Magazine "Stern", to the European  Commissioner Viviane Reding on June 9th 2009. Source: EU Commission


In recent years the supporters of the European Charter on Freedom of the Press have established a strong network of partners all over Europe. The aim is to establish the independent, non-governmental European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF). Therefore the network unites partners from all communities that are professionally involved with journalism and press freedom – academics, unions, investigative journalism organisations, the media industry, campaigning and aid organisations etc. Together, they form a strong European Co-operative.


It was then at the Leipzig Media Congress, held by the Sparkasse Leipzig Media Foundation in October of 2010 on the 10th anniversary of the creation of its Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media, that Hans-Ulrich Jörges, initiator of the Charter, introduced the idea of creating a European Centre for the Freedom of the Press to the public for the first time. Immediately after the Congress, the Media Foundation began working on a concept to serve as the basis for a search for new project supporters. Amongst them are members of the European Parliament (especially its President Martin Schulz), the Free State of Saxony, the City of Leipzig as well as the German Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 2015, the Centre was finally founded. It is based at the Media Foundation´s Leipzig headquarters and the Foundation continues to support ECPMF as a partner organisation.

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