Last update 18.10.2010 FRC Contact

2008 Fundamental Rights Conference

Freedom of expression, a cornerstone of democracy

2008 FRC broucher - 'Freedom of expression, a cornerstone of democracyThe Fundamental Rights Agency launched on 8-9 December 2008 its Fundamental Rights Conference in Paris.

The event examined key issues and challenges related to freedom of expression.

Entitled "Freedom of expression, a cornerstone of democracy - listening and communicating in a diverse Europe", the conference aimed to contribute to policy and action within the European Union and to help shape the evolving space for communication among Europeans.

More than 200 participants from the 27 Member States attended the event - including representatives from the European Union institutions, international organisations, national governments, media, internet experts, civil society and human rights bodies.

The conference coincided with the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and was organised in cooperation with the French Ministry of Justice as part of the programme of events under the French Presidency of the EU.

French Ministry for Justice: Video and audio files from the Conference are included.(in French)

Read the Final Report of the Fundamental Rights Conference 2008.

Freedom of expression

FRA Director Morten Kjaerum speaking"Without freedom of expression it is difficult to imagine the progress achieved in developing and scrutinising norms and standards which form the basis of our democratic society"

said FRA Director Morten Kjaerum ahead of the event.

"The flipside is that this very freedom can be used as a pretext to stoke up hatred, incite hate crimes, support discriminatory practices which exclude members of our society and in effect undermine the freedom itself and democratic society.

To me the challenge is to stimulate a vibrant discussion on how to protect people against abuses of freedom of expression and at the same time ensure that this freedom remains one of the pillars upon which our societies are built."

"Freedom of expression is at once the most fragile and the most essential of freedoms for a democracy", according to Rachida Dati, the French Minister for Justice.

"Despite the proliferation of communication technologies, keeping alive the diversity of opinions and forms of expression remains an ongoing battle. The need to guarantee the broadest form of access to information, the independence of the media and the freedom of artistic expression must take account of the need to protect each and everyone from expressions of hatred, lies and the negation of their dignity or privacy. In the interests of a tolerant, respectful society, the main task of the law is to guarantee the protection of freedom of expression and to punish all forms of abuse thereof."

Conference speakers included:

  • Rachida Dati, Minister of Justice and Keeper of the Seals, France
  • Jacques Barrot, Vice-President of the European Commission, Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security
  • Florence Aubenas, journalist at Nouvel Observateur
  • Anastasia Crickley, Chair of the Management Board of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights
  • Janez Lenarèiè, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights
  • Andrew Puddephat, Director of Global Partners and Associates
  • and many others.

Read the Final Report of the Fundamental Rights Conference 2008.