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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.


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.

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.


Learning Outcomes

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.

The overall Project

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. Fundamental Social rights in the European Union (5 weeks)
  4. Children’s rights in the EU Charter (5 weeks)
  5. La protection des droits des enfants dans le cadre de la Charte des droits fondamentaux de l'Union européenne (5 semaines)
  6. The European Charter of Fundamental Rights and Data Protection in the European legal framework (5 weeks)
  7. Asylum and Immigration Detention: The Protection of Fundamental Rights in the European Union (5 weeks)

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Federica Casarosa

Research Fellow at the Centre for Judicial Cooperation at the European University Institute

Federica Casarosa is Research Fellow at the Centre for Judicial Cooperation at the European University Institute, Department of Law. She graduated in Private Comparative Law at the University of Pisa and obtained a Master of Research in Law from the European University Institute (2003).

In 2008, she successfully defended her PhD thesis on the role of information in online contracting, in particular analyzing the protection provided to consumers in the pre-contractual phase. She has worked as a consultant for FAO and as a Jean Monnet Fellow at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies.

Her research interests focus on the intersection between private law and fundamental rights, in consumer protection area and media law. Her works appeared on several Italian and international journals, such as the European Review of Private Law, the Journal of Internet Law, and Diritto dell’Informazione e dell’Informatica.

Francesca Fanucci

Lawyer specialised in freedom of expression and comparative media law

Francesca Fanucci is an Italian and British lawyer specialized in freedom of expression and comparative media law.

She is a member of Internews Internet Freedom Expert Register and has consulted, inter alia, for the American Bar Association, ARTICLE 19, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, the Open Society Foundations Justice Initiative and Media Program, the International Press Institute, Access Info Europe and International Media Support.

She is also a surveyor of e-governance policies for the E-Governance Institute at the School of Public Affairs and Administration, Rutgers University-Newark, New Jersey, US and is regularly invited by the Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy at the University of Oxford, UK, as a senior judge at the annual International Rounds of the Monroe E. Price Media Law Moot Court Competition.

Fabio Marcelli

Research director at the Institute of International Legal Studies of the National Research Council

Fabio Marcelli is a research director at the Institute of International Legal Studies of the National Research Council. He is the author of 14 books and more than hundred articles in the field of international law and international relations.

He is a member of the Steering Council of the Unione forense per la tutela dei diritti umani, and of the editorial staff of the journal “Diritti dell’uomo cronache e battaglie”.

Fabio Marcelli is in charge for the scientific direction of the legal migration sector of the migration project of CNR. Scientific director for the FEI project “Partecipare per integrarsi”. In charge for the sector “Migrations and development” of the new migrations project of CNR. He is a scientific director and general coordinator of the project TOOLS in the framework of the FAMI program.

Roxana Radu

Research Associate at the Global Governance Centre

Roxana Radu is a Research Associate at the Global Governance Centre and Programme Manager at the Geneva Internet Platform (GIP) and DiploFoundation.

Her research and publications focus on international governance and global internet policy-making. She holds a PhD (summa cum laude) in International Relations/Political Science from the Graduate Institute, Geneva, and an MA in Political Science (honours) from the Central European University, Budapest.

e-NACT MOOC on Freedom of Expression -