Brussels – The European Commission has published a European democracy action plan (EDAP) which delays any new EU law to end gag lawsuits, also known as Strategic Lawsuits Against Public participation (SLAPPs), according to Greenpeace.

Greenpeace democracy policy advisor Ariadna Rodrigo said: “Free speech, freedom of assembly, and peaceful dissent are fundamental pillars of any democracy. At a moment when anti-SLAPP legislation exists in parts of the US, Canada and Australia, the EU is lagging behind by delaying action on a much needed anti-SLAPP directive, leaving watchdogs vulnerable to hefty fines and drawn-out legal battles for doing their jobs.”

The EDAP gives the Commission until 2021 to decide on measures to fight SLAPPs in Europe, leaving victims unprotected for longer, while SLAPPs will continue to be used across the European Union to silence individuals and organisations that play a watchdog role and hold those in position of power to account. 

On 1st December, Greenpeace and other 60 NGOs published a proposal for an anti-SLAPP directive that includes enough safeguards for all types of watchdogs while protecting the right to access to justice for all. [1] 

Greenpeace is campaigning to ensure that the EU institutions have an active role in the protection of people’s fundamental rights, and that activists and NGOs can operate in the EU without fear of disproportionate lawsuits, repression or censorship.In June, over 100 NGOs have requested that the Commission takes action to fight SLAPPs, including tabling legally binding measures. [2]  

SLAPPs often target journalists and media outlets. However, they are also used against activists and NGOs who speak out in the public interest. In Germany, coal giant RWE is suing a 24-year-old climate activist for encouraging acts of civil disobedience in response to the climate crisis [3]. In France, construction company VINCI has brought a defamation case against the NGO Sherpa which accused the company’s Qatari subsidiary of using forced labour [4]. In Italy, a local politician and representatives of the South Tyrolean fruit industry have sued German NGO Umweltintiut Munchen for their anti-pesticide campaign [5]. In Spain, livestock producer Coren started procedures to sue an activist who revealed how the company’s poor waste management practices were polluting the local water supply [6]. —END—

Notes to Editors:

[1] Protecting public watchdogs across the EU: Greenpeace’s proposal for an EU anti-SLAPP law, press release, 1st December 2020.

[2] Ending SLAPPs: strategic lawsuits against public participation, policy paper, 8 June 2020.

[3] VICE “Darum soll Klimaaktivist Daniel dem Energiekonzern RWE 50.000 Euro zahlen”, 11 June 2019

[4] Sherpa “SLAPPs Brought by VINCI against Sherpa: A New Victory”, 4 July 2017; Business and Human Rights Resource Center “Vinci lawsuits (re forced labour in Qatar)” 2020

[5] South Tyrol SLAPP case: Karl Bär, European Changemarkers blog, 24 November 2020.

[6] Coren contra Manuel


Ariadna Rodrigo – Greenpeace EU green recovery spokesperson: +32 (0)479 99 69 22, [email protected]

Greenpeace EU press desk: +32 (0)2 274 1911, [email protected]

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