Conceptualizing media freedom deterioration as part of the rule of law breakdown

The paper reconstructs how European Union’s institutions conceptualize deterioration of media freedom in member states as part of the rule of law crisis. Since 2020 the European Commission has been monitoring media freedom as part of annual Rule of Law reports. In rickety democracies, Poland and Hungary, where political and institutional factors make it increasingly difficult for ‘the fourth estate's to perform its role to speak truth to power, EU has also included media freedom in Article 7 procedure and in related resolutions of the European Parliament. The EU Commission has launched one EU law infringement proceeding against Hungary related to media freedom and zero against Poland. At the same time, the European Commission pushed for EU level regulation, seemingly in style of militant democracy-style safeguards for media freedom and pluralism. The paper answers the question to what extent and in what ways this framing has been embedded in European human rights law.