The European common constitutional traditions on freedom of expression. A comparative assessment

di Riccardo De Caria

This article provides a brief restatement of the constitutional laws, the legislative provisions and the case-law of the European Union Member States (EUMSs) on freedom of expression, and highlights key elements of the practice of the EUMSs in this respect. This is done on the basis of national reports prepared in respect of 22 countries by scholars from, or working in, each of them. Those reports were commissioned to the National Reporters in the context of the European Law Institute (ELI)’s project on Common Constitutional Traditions in Europe (CCTs). This article is an expanded version of the final output of the project. The article verifies, with respect to the various areas of the law relating to freedom of expression, to what extent there are constitutional traditions common to the EUMSs, and where a common core is instead lacking. The analysis presented here follows the outline of the questionnaire drawn up by the Project Team of the ELI project on CCTs. The method followed was thus bottom-up, i.e. one that considered first the single national constitutional traditions, and then tried to identify sufficiently common features among them, in order to qualify as common European principles. The article concludes that a sufficiently consolidated national tradition of protection of freedom of expression can be found in most countries, and that the common constitutional tradition on freedom of expression would seem to have its bedrock in the prohibition of censorship.