Henrik Kaufholz  + Hans-Ulrich JörgesPress and media freedom is under attack. And not only in authoritarian states such as 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) was founded by 25 organizations from all over Europe in order to stop this development. The basis for our work is the European Charter, signed by 48 editors-in-chief and leading journalists.

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

You are 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 on the 24th June 2015 in Leipzig, Germany to found 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 was conceived as a pan-European organisation of journalists with the goal of enforcing the application of the European Charter on Freedom of the Press throughout Europe. The centre helps shape a common European media space and supports, defends, elaborates and expands pan-European media freedom.


Voting at the founding assembly. Source: ECPMF

The ECPMF was formed democratically and is politically independent as a non-profit European Co-operative Society (SCE). The ECPMF ‘s work 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 supports and coordinates 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 works 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 database - the Press Freedom Resource Centre. Furthermore, scientific analysis about press freedom in Europe is systematically collected.

ECPMF Structure

Structure of the ECPMF

The activities of the ECPMF and its members include “Journalists-in-Residence”, diplomatic efforts, international petitions, fact-finding missions, campaigning, rapid response forces, legal aid and legislative initiatives. The centre also awards the European Journalism Prize and will offer training and education in the near future. We organise 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 organised and will be allowed to operate legally in all 28 EU countries. The organisation is automatically externally audited 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 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 can be found here.

Founding Assembly BW

Participants at the founding assembly. Source: ECPMF 

Rochdale Pioneers

The Rochdale Pioneers, founders of 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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