Freedom of expression and media
Freedom of expression is a key indicator of a country's readiness to become part of the EU. It implies a commitment to democracy, good governance and political accountability. Accordingly, no country can join the EU without guaranteeing freedom of expression as a basic human right (Article 49 of the Lisbon Treaty)
A complex challenge
Ensuring freedom of expression and of the media is one of the main challenges facing enlargement countries. Political interference in the media, economic concerns such as media concentration and various forms of harassment, including violence against journalists, are topical issues in societies of the Western Balkans and Turkey. Improving this situation inevitably goes beyond a simple transposition of EU rules: it calls for behavioural and cultural change in politics, judiciary and media.
The EU supports this process by
- providing legal assistance and guidance in drafting media legislation
- thoroughly monitoring the policies of candidate countries and potential candidates in this field
- providing financial support through IPA programmes
Guidelines for EU support to media freedom and media integrity
The Guidelines built on the policy vision as set out in the Conclusions of the Speak-up!2 conference and the EU Enlargement Strategy 2013-2014. The document translates the political objectives into a concrete "results' framework" containing the outcomes to be achieved as well as the indicators to monitor them.
DG Enlargement with these Guidelines, which has been largely consulted with relevant stakeholders, intends to provide consistency between policy support and assistance at both multi-country and national level.
To this end, three main categories of actors need to be mobilised and targeted by diverse support:
- State institutions in charge of setting an enabling environment for free expression in media
- media professional organisations that are a key driver of awaited change
- individual media outlets, expected to improve their internal governance and performance
Financial support for freedom of the media is granted through the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA). Examples of on-going assistance include:
- a project in joint management with UNESCO for improving ethical and professional standards in journalism and introducing self-regulation
- a partnership agreement with media organisations from all enlargement countries and some EU countries on the South-East European Media Observatory to build capacity and coalitions for monitoring media integrity and advocating media reform
- direct support to the European Broadcasting Union to enable the democratic role of public service media in the enlargement zone
- developing an enlargement strategy for the support of media and facilitating networks of media stakeholders
Speak Up! Conference
The Speak Up! conference on freedom of expression and media in the Western Balkans and Turkey brings together media professionals from the region and the EU to address the challenges of ensuring freedom of expression and the media.
The Speak Up! 2 conference (June 2013), brought journalists, media analysts and decision makers from enlargement countries, together with authorities and experts from international, regional and national organisations dealing with freedom of expression and media issues to discuss achievements and remaining challenges.
The first conference (May 2011) brought together over 400 participants from the enlargement region and the EU. Its conclusions have since become an important reference for policy making on media freedom in the enlargement countries.
Speak Up! 2 Conference June 2013 – key documents
» Webcast recordings of the whole conference (+download option)
» Europe by Satellite recordings of Opening, Session 1 + 4, Concluding debate (+ download option)
» Photo album on the DG Enlargement Facebook Page