Join us to free media conference in Gdansk

During the post-World War II era, visionary European leaders established institutions and developed conventions that combined media and democracy to keep the peace in Europe. The Council of Europe, the European Union, the OSCE (based on the Helsinki Final Act) all regard media freedom as a fundamental pillar of democracy. Today, in several countries we find that the links between free and pluralistic media and politics are being challenged.

Hate speech and fake news are rife, citizens are getting more and more confused as propaganda undermines the credibility of our news media, and our fundamental values are under attack. Impartial and accurate journalism is under attack.

It is high time to address the importance of uncensored, pluralistic media for the development of our free democracies in Europe.


Sessions: Free media and politics are challenged

Session 1: The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the UN
Session 2: Media pluralism in Europe and the role of European Institutions
Session 3: How to save media freedom in challenged countries – concrete steps
Session 4: Mapping media freedom in Europe
Session 5: Self-regulation in the media in the digital age as a pillar for credibility in media
Session 6: National action plans on safety and the issue of impumity
Session 7: The way forward – setting recommendation of action plan

Europe: We need a game changer

We need a game changer, and as mechanisms to make a difference, the project consists of four elements, where the focal point will be a conference on the topic of Free Media in Europe.

  • An analysis on how media are affected in targeted areas in Europe (incl. outcome of the EU “Media Pluralism Monitor” and results of the CoE study on self-censorship).
  • The media situation in countries where democracy is in decline or threatened (i.e. outcome of the CoE Platform for the protection of journalism and the safety of journalists).
  • Results of the follow-up of the report on press freedom and media pluralism carried out by the so-called High-Level Group delivered to the EU Commission.

A communication strategy should ensure a public debate. Invited to the conference:

  • Journalists and media organisations;
  • Media regulators and representatives of press councils;
  • Academics;
  • Politicians, civil servants;
  • Citizens;
  • People working for human rights and democracy;
  • Members of intergovernmental parliaments in Europe

The output from the conference should point out the methodology to find the crucial link in the triangle: Citizens – Media – Governmental bodies.

Organizer and partners

The Free European Media Conference 2020 in Gdansk 12. og 13. March is organized by European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and Free European Media in cooperation with Council of Europe, European Commission (EU), the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), Nordic Journalism Centre (NJC), Pomorskie Voivodeship, ESC – European Solidarity Centre, City of Gdansk.

12-13 MARCH 2020

Programme for the Conference

Thursday 12 March

12.00 Registration
European Solidarity Center (ECS), Gdansk

13.00 Opening
13.30 Session 1: The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the UND SDG 16
14.15: Session 2: Media pluralism in Europe and the role of European Institutions
15.30: Coffee Break
16.00 Session 3: How to save media freedom in challenged countries – concrete steps
17.00 Session 4: Mapping media freedom in Europe
17.45 Break
18.00 Special guest
19.00 – 22.00 Networking Reception


Friday 13. March

9.00 Good morning. Keynote speaker of the day
9.15 Session 5: Self-regulation in the media in the digital age as a pillar for credibility in media
10.45 Coffee break
11.15: Session 6: National action plans on safety and the issue of impumity
12.30 Session 7: The way forward – setting recommendation of action plan

13.00 End of Free Media Conference 2020


Speakers from all over Europe

Mogens Lykketoft, Chairman United Nations (UN General Assembly 2015-2016), Věra Jourová, Vice-President of the EU-commission for Values and Transparency (online), Patrick Penninckx, Council of Europe, Lucie Sýkorová, European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), Harlem Désir, Freedom of the Media, OSCE, Mogens Blicher Bjerregård, European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Joanna Szymanska, ARTICLE 19, Lutz Kinkel, European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), Marta Barcenilla, Vice-President, European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Suzanne Vanderzande, DG Connect, Maja Sever, president of the Croatian Union of Journalists, Krzysztof Bobinski, Society of Journalists, Poland, Tamara Filipovic, Serbia Journalist Federation, Michal Klíma (IPI Czech), Gábor Polyak (Mertek Media Monitor), Krzysztof Skowroński, SDP president, Poland, Adeline Hulin, UNESCO, Anna Kireeva, Nordic Journalism Centre, Barents Press, Wout van Wijk, News Media Europe, Grzegorz Nawrocki, a former journalist of the Polish National Television (TVP), Mieczysław Struk, Marshal, Pomorskie Voivodeship, Ricardo Gutierrez, General Secretary, European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Jesper Højberg, CEO, International Media Support (IMS) and many other special guests from all over Europe. Finale program will be published in February.

Mogens Lykketoft
Mogens Lykketoft
Chairman United Nations (UN General Assembly 2015-2016). Former minister and former President of the Danish Parlament.
Patrick Penninckx
Patrick Penninckx
Council of Europe (EU)
Věra Jourová
Věra Jourová
Vice-President of the EU-commission for Values and Transparency (online)

Participation in Free European Media 2020

Invited to the Free European Media 2020 conference:

  • Journalists and media organisations;
  • Media regulators and representatives of press councils;
  • Academics;
  • Politicians, civil servants;
  • Citizens;
  • People working for human rights and democracy;
  • Members of intergovernmental parliaments in Europe

Book a flight to Gdansk


An important place for the European history

The Free European Media Conference take place in this area, in the huge
European Solidarity Centre (ECS) in Gdansk in Poland.

Why Gdansk?

Second World War began with german attack on Westerplatte near by Gdansk the 1. september 1939. Russian follow from the East the 17. September same year, and not before 50 years after, the Poles get the freedom again. Also in Gdansk.

Gdansk is a sort of a capital of democracy in the united and free Europe after the collapse of communism in June 1989. The Solidarity-movement (Solidarnosc) that give Poland and Europe the freedom back started in Gdansk with the shipyard strikes in august 1980.  The Free European Media Conference take place in this area, in the huge European Solidarity Centre (ECS).

Read more about Gdansk for visitors: What To Do in Gdansk

The huge construction you can see next to the entrance to the Gdansk Shipyards is the impressive European Solidarity Centre which opened on August 30, 2014, the 34th anniversary of the signing of the August Accords. The 5-storey building, which has been designed to give the impression of walls cracking and tilting and is covered in rust-coloured sheet metal reminiscent of a ship’s hull, has been a project many years in the making. It was finally signed into life in 2005 on the 25th anniversary of the signing of the August Accords when a Founding Act was signed in Solidarity Square by 29 joint-signatories including EU Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso, Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski and Solidarity legend and former President Lech Walesa.

The centre quickly gained international recognition picking up the prestigious Council of Europe Museum prize for 2016 while it, the OHS Hall (Sala BHP), Gate No. 2, Solidarity Square (Plac Solidarności) and Monument to the Fallen Shipyard Workers of 1970 were awarded the European Heritage Label. The purpose of the Label is to mark those sites which ‘have played an important role in European history and culture and relate to the idea of uniting, as well as democratic and humanistic values of timeless significance.’

There are a number of aims to the centre. First and foremost it is designed to be a symbol of the victory of the Solidarity movement and the way that victory was achieved peacefully thanks to the power of people uniting in solidarity with each other. It is both definitions of this word that the centre’s organisers want to pay tribute to and to develop further. The proclamation issued by the joint-signatories in 2005 stated that they wanted the European Solidarity Centre to “become the world’s centre for the ideas of freedom, democracy and solidarity to be fostered”.

The building is centred around a permanent exhibition dedicated to the history of Solidarity and the opposition, which led to the democratic transformation of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. But the exhibition forms just a part of the European Solidarity Centre’s daily function. The building features a library, reading rooms and archives which are completely accessible to researchers and any interested reader alike. The conference rooms and other spaces, such as the winter garden on the ground floor, host debates and concerts serving projects of both the ESC and outside associations aimed at working towards the common good.

A viewing terrace on the roof allows visitors to look out over the remains of the Lenin Shipyards where the Solidarity movement was born. The warmer months will see a bar opened here as well.

The building is free to enter and to move around – there are no scowling security men on the door. The major attraction for the foreign visitor is the permanent exhibition spread over two floors, seven different halls and occupying 3,000m2. This is the one part of the centre for which you need a ticket. This permanent exhibition tells the story of Solidarity; where it began, how it grew and ultimately where it led the people of Poland and the occupied countries of the Communist Bloc. For those familiar with the highly-regarded Roads to Freedom (Drogi do Wolnosci) exhibition, this is its successor and aims to build upon its legacy and develop the story further. It combines traditional display methods with some truly impressive state-of-the-art technology which allows visitors access to authentic artefacts, 3D projections, photographs, film, declassified security service documents and interactive displays. Allow yourself 2 to 3 hours to view the exhibition comfortably.

Exhibition with Solidarnosc and Lech Walesa

The first hall (A) you will enter is called ‘The Birth of Solidarność and is devoted to the strikes of August 1980. You’ll see the cab of crane operator Anna Walentynowicz, whose sacking close to her retirement created the spark that saw the shipyard rise up in protest. Authentic materials salvaged from the shipyard are used to tell the story with the former canteen table now supporting the interactive terminals and former workers helmets suspended over visitors’ heads onto which archive film is projected.

Moving into hall B, entitled ‘The Power of the Powerless’, you see the world that preceded the strikes of 1980 which give you an insight into the roots of the opposition movement and what the totalitarian regime looked and felt like. There are operational records from the security services and memories of the failed protests in 1970 which resulted in 45 deaths as they were ruthlessly crushed by security and military personnel.

Hall C brings you into the room dedicated to ‘Solidarność and Hope’. It’s here that you get a sense of the unexpected and unfamiliar freedom the strikes bought the country in August 1980 and the sixteen months that followed until the movement was outlawed and the country placed under Martial Law on December 13, 1981. Visitors are guided by a white and red trail which when reflected into the ceiling panel forms the legendary trade union’s logo.

Next comes ‘The War with Society’ and you are graphically given a sense of how the freedom and hope of the sixteen months following August 1980 was systematically destroyed. The space narrows and visitors are ushered toward a Militia van with the riot shields of Zomo (the armed paramilitary police) pressing you deeper into the hall. The terror and dread of the Martial Law period are conveyed while you witness the activity in the underground Solidarity movement as they try to rally the people to stand firm and resist. This chapter of the exhibition ends with the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Lech Walesa in 1983.

Hall E hosts ‘The Road to Democracy’ and demonstrates the important role played by Polish-born Pope John Paul II (the former Bishop of Krakow Cardinal Karol Wojtyla). His messages of hope delivered during his pilgrimages to his homeland fuelled the struggle for freedom and inspired youth movements and society as a whole to renew their fight. The growing demands and the worsening economic crisis resulted in the governing regime agreeing to the Round Table talks in 1989. The subsequent partly-free elections saw Solidarity storm to victory and saw Poland become the first Communist Bloc country to win its freedom.

‘The triumph of Freedom’ in the final hall shows how the changes in Poland reverberated across the Communist Bloc as country after country rose up and demanded democracy. Countries were reborn and countless new states emerged. As Lech Walesa later told President Barack Obama, “(the Poles) smashed the teeth of the Soviet bear and when he couldn’t bite anymore, the rest of the nations made their own freedom”. Visitors are invited to add their tickets to the stack of those who have visited before in a symbol of solidarity.

As well as visiting the exhibition you can also take a moment to visit the ‘Pope John Paul II Hall’ to reflect as you look out through the windows onto the Monument of the Fallen Shipyard Workers.
Excellent audio guides are available in Polish, English, French, German, Russian, Spanish and the local Kashubian language. There is audio description for the visually impaired and sign language and loops for the hearing impaired. The entire space is designed to be accessible to all. You’ll also find a gift shop, cafe, restaurant, a roof-top terrace (with summer-time bar) where you can view the remains of the surrounding shipyards and relax and reflect on what is a very good portrayal of the Solidarity story indeed. Those with children should also find the Play Department interesting as well.

More info about European Solidarity Centre, Gdansk

Text by Gdansk Tourist Board 2017.


Pictures and video from Free European Media 2018

Photos and video from the Free European Media Conference. The Free European Media Conference 2018 was organized by European Federation of Journalists, (EFJ) Council of Europe, Nordic Journalism Centre (NJC), European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) and the International Press Institute (IP). Partners in 2018: European Solidarity Centre (ECS), City of Gdansk, Pomorskie Region, European Federation of Public Service Unions, SDP (Association of Polish Journalists), SDRP (Journalists’ Association of the republic of Poland),TD (Society of Journalists) and the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC).
Paweł Bogdan Adamowicz (1965-2019) - In 2018 the Mayor of Gdansk, Mr. Pawel Adamowicz, make it possible to make the first Free European Media conference in Gdansk. On 13 January 2019, Adamowicz was stabbed during a live charity event in Gdańsk. Adamowicz died the following day from his injuries, at the age of 53.

In his spirit the next Free European Media conference will take place in Gdansk the 12. – 13. March 2020.

In 1990, he was elected to the Gdańsk City Council and holding this post until 1998. He was elected Mayor of Gdańsk in 1998 and re-elected in 2002 with 72% of the vote. In 2018, he was re-elected. He was known as a liberal, progressive figure, speaking in support of LGBT-rights, immigration and minority groups.

Here you can see and hear his welcome speak at the first Free European Media conference.

Photos from Free European Media 2018 conference, where former President in Poland and Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Lech Walesa, and more than two hundred others participate in the conference.

Contact us


Free European Media
Slagelsegade 14 K
DK-2100 Copenhagen East
Telephone: +45 70 20 14 40

European Federation of Journalists
Fédération européenne des journalistes
Rue de la Loi – Wetstraat 155
B-1040 Brussels
Telephone: +32 2 235 22 00


Europejskie Centrum Solidarności
pl. Solidarności 1
P-80–863 Gdansk
Telephone +48 58 77 24 022

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