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Freedom of Expression

This course offers an overview of the main challenges in the protection of what can be considered a cornerstone of European democracies: freedom of expression. Taking the protection afforded by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the European Convention of Human Rights, the course will guide you through different facets of freedom of expression, showing you how far each citizen may exercise his right but also when the State may legitimately limit the possibility to speak out.

The course will consider the protection provided by the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights in comparison to the European Convention of Human Rights. The course will be complemented by presentations of a variety of cases sourcing from pan European and national courts inviting the learners to put on the judge’s hat and decide on the legal problems emerging from the presented case studies.

The course will address in detail the interplay between freedom of expression and Internet technologies, looking at the potential conflicts with other fundamental rights, such as dignity, data protection, and copyright.



Learning objectives

The learners will have obtained the knowledge of standards of freedom of expression in the European Union such that are guaranteed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the European Convention of Human Rights. They will explore the manner in which freedom of expression faces other rights and is balanced against them. Finally, they will explore the challenges posed to the protection of freedom of expression by the expanding technology.


Course Outline

Week 1 Introduction & State of Play: The Charter and Freedom of Expression in Europe
The first week of the course focuses on the basic construction of freedom of expression safeguards in Europe. It will present basic legal sources and permissible limitations to freedom of expression in the European Union context.

Week 2 Freedom of Expression Online (Combatting Illegal Content and Fake News)
In Week 2 of the course, we will focus on challenges related to regulating freedom of expression online and the role of third parties (Internet service providers) in the process. Regulation of illegal content and fake news will be the focus of our considerations.

Week 3 Hate Speech
During Week 3, we will focus on one unwanted form of freedom of expression: hate speech. We will focus on its main manifestations and explore the challenges relating to the multiple legal sources.

Week 4 Freedom of expression and conflicting rights
In the course of Week 4, we will focus on rights which the courts balance with freedom of expression. We will look closer at conflicts between freedom of expression and data protection and tensions produced by defamation.

Week 5 Challenges
During Week 5 with the use of the examples of case law we will explore further challenges that have to be faced with regard to freedom of expression. We will focus in particular on the changing nature of media and journalism and the increasing shadow of AI cast over human, predominantly online, interactions.

The overall Project

This is the first of five e-learning courses offered within the ambit of the e-NACT project, led by the Centre for Judicial Cooperation, based at the European University Institute, with the participation of The Global Campus of Human Rights and a variety of national institutions offering trainings to judges in national contexts.

e-learning National Active Charter Training(e-NACT) Project is a DG Justice supported project providing for a training methodology and training activities that, coupled with the expertise of the trainers involved, foster the emergence and consolidation of a common culture of fundamental rights. By discussing with academics and with foreign colleagues their difficulties or good practices with respect to the application of the EU Charter, legal practitioners will deepen their understanding and equip themselves with new instruments and notions to use it effectively.For this purpose, e-NACT will offer systematic, interdisciplinary, interconnected and combined residential and e-learning training on five fundamental rights guaranteed in the EU Charter.

The following courses are offered within this project:

  1. Crash course on the application of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (1 week)
  2. Freedom of expression (5 weeks)
  3. Social rights (5 weeks)
  4. Children’s rights (5 weeks)
  5. Data protection (5 weeks)
  6. Protection of fundamental rights in the area of asylum and migration (5 weeks)

Lecturers and Experts

The e-NACT courses feature a group of academics, judges, and other practitioners passionate for fundamental rights and willing to spread the knowledge about them both within their professional networks and beyond. As the courses build on the trans-national trainings conducted within the e-NACT project, we invited also experts that delivered these residential training to enrichen the online courses with their perspectives and experience.


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