Brussels, 30 August 2013
EU and EBU ready to cooperate on strengthening public media in European Neighbourhood
The European Commission and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) agreed to extend their cooperation in strengthening public media in the countries of the European Neighbourhood.
Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle met with EBU President Jean-Paul Philippot and Director General Ingrid Deltenre in Brussels today to review cooperation under a Memorandum of Understanding signed in July last year that focused on the countries wishing to join the EU.
Commissioner Füle said the EBU had proved to be an important ally in promoting freedom of expression and the role of independent public service media in modern European democracies. He thanked the EBU President and Director General for its successful work in the accession countries, and for excellent EBU cooperation on progress reports for the candidate countries and the Speak-Up2 conference held in June 2013.“We now aim to expand our cooperation by extending support for the action plan in the accession countries and through a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen public service media in the EU’s Neighbourhood countries,” said the Commissioner.
President Phillippot expressed pleasure that the European Commission recognized the EBU’s work in supporting reform, training and capacity-building for public service broadcasting in and around Europe. “Independent and sustainable Public Service Media promote freedom of expression and values which are essential for well-informed democracies We look forward to expanding our work in partnership with the Commission not only in the accession countries but also in other EU neighbouring countries," he said.
The issue of freedom of expression in the media and the role of public broadcasters is a key policy area for the European Commission in the Enlargement countries as well as in the broader European Neighbourhood.
The European Union and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) share the same principles and the same policy goals of free and independent media and public service broadcasters in partner countries. Free press and media constitute one of the pillars of a deep and sustainable democracy. Independent and sustainable public service media play an important role in the transformation and in the development of a democratic society.
The European Commission pays particular attention to the reform efforts of publicly owned broadcasters in Neighbourhood countries. Public service media are indispensable as dedicated platforms for displaying the social and cultural diversity existing in society and for promoting inclusiveness and tolerance. The EBU has the necessary expertise and experience for the challenging task of helping public broadcasters with the reform.
In the Enlargement region the EBU’s Partnership Programme has been implementing an action plan co-funded by the European Commission to strengthen EBU Members in the western Balkan countries preparing to enter the EU. Activities so far have included regional conferences (on public service media and the citizen, and on Roma minorities); workshops on public service news; and consultancies on strategies for the digital age. At the same time the Partnership Programme has organized EBU-funded assistance for its Members in Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine to the east, and in southern Mediterranean countries including Algeria, Libya and Tunisia.
The EU is also active in the media sector of the southern Mediterranean, especially at the bilateral level. Last year the European Commission launched the second part of a successful Euro-Mediterranean programme for media development. A new programme will be launched to support the reform of the audiovisual sector and in particular public broadcasters in those countries where state-controlled media have been a common feature.
The European Commission grant agreement with EBU to strengthen public service media in the enlargement countries was signed on 6 April 2013. The 24 month project is addressing the objectives identified in the MoU agreed between the EU and EBU in the Memorandum of Understanding signed 24 July 2012. The EU contribution amounts to € 500,000 out of a total budget of € 663,982.
The four objectives are:
1) Improve public accountability and credibility of the Public Service Media (PSM)
2) Contribute to improved financial sustainability of PSM
3) Improve editorial independence
4) Contribute to readiness of PSM for the digital future
In addition, EBU has been performing fact-finding missions in Albania, Montenegro, BiH, Kosovo and Serbia this year. Following the mission in Serbia, EBU conducted an in-depth consultancy this summer to assist the Vojvodina public service broadcaster in developing a five-year strategic plan.
• About the European Broadcasting Union (EBU)
The EBU serves 74 Members in 56 countries in and around Europe. It represents its Members and promotes the values and distinctiveness of public service media in Europe and around the world. The Eurovision and Euroradio networks deliver news, sports, events and music to EBU Members and other media organizations. Services to Members range from legal advice, technical standardization and development to coproduction and exchange of quality European content. More information on the EBU’s Partnership Programme is available on the EBU web-site: http://www3.ebu.ch/cms/en/services/member-relations/partnership
• The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) countries are 16 of EU's closest neighbours – Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, Palestine, Syria, Tunisia and Ukraine.