The European Union enhances support for independent media in the Western Balkans

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TIRANA, 12.11.2017. –  As announced during the conference “EU-Western Balkans Media Days” held in Tirana, The European Commission will invest in new initiatives to support independent journalism, viable media outlets and to foster cooperation between public service media.

At the conference, the European Commission presented comprehensive proposals on strengthening independent media in the region and recalled that media freedom is one of the political criteria for joining the Union, a necessity for countries that want to join the EU.

As published in the announcement – “The new EU funds will provide training for young journalists and journalists in the middle of a career across the region, which will encourage research journalism that contributes to reconciliation”.

According to the new technical assistance program for public service broadcasters regional co-production of investigative journalism, media content for youth and digitization will be supported.

In addition, in order to support independent media, new actions will be launched together with the European Fund for Democracy to support the launch of an independent media outlet and “small scale initiatives”.
“Freedom of expression is a fundamental value of the European Union and is inextricably linked to further progress on the road to the EU,” said European Commissioner for Enlargement Johannes Hahn, who attended the conference.
He added that the EU-Western Balkans paves the way for a more comprehensive approach to supporting independent media, helping to spread media literacy in the region, helping digitization and knowledge transfer.
“A living, economically viable and pluralistic media sector is equally important for the exercise of freedom of expression, such as the legal, political and judicial conditions that guarantee it,” Han said.
The EU has allocated EUR 2 million for a regional training and support program for improving quality and professionalism in journalism, and the program will be launched in the first half of 2018.

1.5 million euros have been allocated for the technical assistance program for the public service media in the Western Balkans and the program should start in early 2018, while four million euros have been allocated for the implementation of the Civil Society and Media Support Plan in the Western Balkans, and the project begins at the beginning 2018.

The “EU-Western Balkans Media Days” conference took place on November 9 and 10 in Tirana and gathered more than 250 representatives of media outlets and media organizations as well as policymakers from the EU and the Western Balkans.