Publication Date: January 2014

These guidelines refer to priorities and strategies of the EU in promoting the respect of media freedom in enlargement countries. Freedom of expression is a fundamental right safeguarded by international law, including the European Convention on Human Rights, and forms an integral part of the functioning of a pluralistic democracy. Since the media and their markets are basically national in scope, there is little acquis at the EU level.

However, in the context of the European Enlargement policy, the European Commission is obliged by the Copenhagen political criteria to make a full assessment and conclude if there is real respect and true commitment to promoting freedom of expression in the given aspiring country. The assessment should be comprehensive and the identified shortcomings should be addressed and corrected by the enlargement countries even if there is no EU regulation to align with and implement.

The annual assessments of the situation regarding freedom of expression and media in individual enlargement countries are to be found in regular Progress Reports. On the political side, it was decided to make use of the full potential of accession negotiations in order to make progress on freedom of expression related issues. Particularly Chapter 23 (but also Chapter 10 and others as far as they touch on the subjects having an impact on the media sector) and the related action plan, should properly cover the field. For the countries still on their way to open accession talks, the established forms of the high level political dialogue should be used to raise the subjects of concern regarding freedom of expression and find appropriate remedies. There is a clear need for an engagement over a longer time period so that sustainable results can be achieved. To this end, the Commission has drafted these guidelines to specify the forms and strategies of its commitment over along term period (2014-2020).

Tags: Media freedom Media pluralism

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