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Freedom of expression and media

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

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

Speak Up! Conference May 2011 – key documents

Programme & Participants

» Speak Up! Conference programmepdf(479 kB)

» List of Participantspdf(222 kB)

Conclusions & Recommendations by The Chair

» Speak Up! Conference Conclusions and Recommendations by the Chairpdf(170 kB)

Presentations & Speeches

» Speech: Opening speech by Professor Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliamentpdf(15 kB)

» Speech: I’ve spoken up and saved my soul. Will I save my life?, by Veran Matic, B 92, Belgradepdf(2 MB)

» Presentation: Freedom of Expression and Media in the Western Balkans and Turkey, with a special emphasis on Montenegro, by Zeljko Ivanovic, Vijesti, Podgoricappt8(3 MB)

» Speech: Freedom of Expression and Media in the Western Balkans and Turkey, with a special emphasis on Montenegro, by Zeljko Ivanovic, Vijesti, Podgoricapdf(69 kB)

» Speech: How to Improve the freedom of expression/media freedom in Europe?, by Renate Schroeder, European Federation of Journalistspdf(227 kB)

» Speech: The Role of Public Broadcasters in a changing Media Environment, by William Horsley, Media Freedom Representative of the Association of European Journalists (AEJ)pdf(21 kB)

Preparatory Contributions

» Media Freedom and its Enemies in the Balkans, by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Networkpdf(230 kB)

» Freedom of Expression and Media in the Western Balkans and Turkey, by the Council of Europepdf(49 kB)

» The Pivotal Role of Sustainable and Independent Public Service Media, by the European Broadcasting Unitpdf(661 kB)

» Measures to Improve Press Freedom in Croatia, by the International Press Institutepdf(105 kB)

» Measures to Improve Press Freedom in Turkey, by the International Press Institutepdf(110 kB)

» Speaking Up: Old and New Challenges for Freedom of Expression, by the Open Society Foundationspdf(136 kB)

» Speak Up! - Freedom of Expression and Media in the Western Balkans and Turkey, by the Regional Cooperation Councilpdf(62 kB)

» Press Freedom in the Western Balkans and Turkey, by the South-East Europe Media Organisationpdf(90 kB)

» Addressing the Problems and the Needs of SEE Media Communities through Project Development and Implementation, by the South-East European Network for Professionalization of the Mediapdf(73 kB)

» Professional Journalism and Self-Regulation; New Media, Old Dilemmas in South East Europe and Turkey, by UNESCOpdf

Speakers' Publications

» Cyber Law Blog, A News Resource for CyberLaw and Cyber-Rights Issues from around the Globe, various publications by Yaman Akdeniz

» Report of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media on Turkey and Internet Censorship, by Yaman Akdenizpdf(651 kB)

» Study of Legal Provisions and Practices Related to Freedom of Expression, the Free Flow of Information and Media Pluralism on the Internet in the OSCE Participating States, by Yaman Akdenizpdf(468 kB)

» Media Ownership and Its Impact on Media Independence and Pluralism in 18 countries of Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, 2004, by Brankica Petković

» Patterns of Political Instrumentalisation and Clientelism in the Media in South East Europe, 2007, by Brankica Petković

» Mass Media, Post-conflict Transformation and Transition: Why Is It Bodo and Not Katharine? by Dušan Reljipdf(278 kB)

Useful Links

» IFJ: Set Turkish Journalists Free

» Guide for Investigative Journalists in the Balkans

» 2010 World Press Freedom Index (Reports without Borders)pdf

» The Media Self-Regulation Guidebook (OSCE)

» Guide to the Digital Switchover (OSCE)

» Ethical Journalism Initiative (International Federation of Journalists, IFJ)

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Last update: 21/03/2014