FSE president Carolin Otto addresses EU leaders on freedom of expression

In her letter to Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, Carolin Otto, president of the Federation of Screenwriters in Europe and German screenwriter, expresses her deep concern about the erosion of democracy in some countries of Europe, the regular attacks on the rule of law of the European Union and the consequences for artistic freedom and freedom of the media.

“At this moment, something bigger is at stake than the interests of the screenwriters who are our members, who of course otherwise rank first for the FSE. The legal foundation on which the European Union was built is being consistently ignored by some member states. Nationalist governments engage in personal or party-political enrichment of power and money while gladly accepting financial contributions from other Europeans, without respecting the values of the Union. So far they have been doing this with impunity.”

“For writers, journalists and artists in these countries, all of this amounts to a professional ban if they do not produce on the lines of the rulers. This is not the standard of freedom expected in the EU and which we as democrats proudly defend.”

Carolin Otto calls on EU leaders to establish strong tools to bind grants and loans to the rule of law, especially in the context of the Covid recovery package.

“European health and economy are very important. But they are nothing without the democratic code of rights and values on which our community is based. The artists and creatives of Europe and all citizens who value freedom of expression and the rule of law will thank you. Be clear, for Europe.”


The defence of freedom of expression and artistic creation within the audiovisual field is one of the aims of the Federation of Screenwriters in Europe.

Carolin Otto gave the final touch to the programme of the 4th World Conference of Screenwriters in Berlin on 11 October 2018 by inviting exiled Turkish journalist Can Dündar as well as Peter Verzilov and Nadya Tolokonnikova from the activist group Pussy Riot to a panel on “Writing through Oppression”. The conference concluded on these words :

“In this spirit we will raise our voices against the dark forces of hatred, intolerance, exclusion and rapacious greed that are building all around us. We will continue to tell our stories in the conviction that we inspire the humanity and collective purpose that are needed to preserve civilization itself.” (Declaration of the 4th World Conference of Screenwriters, Berlin, 11 October 2018)

Carolin Otto’s letter to EU leaders was sent to EU Commission President von der Leyen and EU Commissioner for Values and Transparency Věra Jourová, to European Council president Charles Michel, EU Parliament president David Sassoli, Manfred Weber – chair of the EPP group at the European Parliament, Monika Grütters – Commissioner for Culture and the Media in Germany, French secretary of State (European Affairs) Clément Beaune and Michael Roth – Minister of State for Europe at the Federal Foreign Office in Germany.

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