EU Role in Promoting Freedom of Expression

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Freedom of expression and freedom of media are among the key pillars of a functioning democracy.  Independent and quality media are not only crucial for providing factual and trustworthy information, which enable citizens to make informed decisions and to participate actively in the democratic process. They are also crucial for holding governments to account, representing in this function a key ally in the full-scale implementation of the rule of law.

The EU support to this sector in Serbia focuses on several main areas: enabling environment for free expression and media; empowerment of journalists’ and media professionals’ organisations; sustainability of media outlets; investigative journalism; fostering professionalism and independence of media; raising the resilience of media against external pressures.

Currently, there are eleven ongoing EU funded projects, with total value of more than 3.2 million EUR, and one new project, which will be implemented by the OSCE, is in the pipeline.

 

                                                   Ongoing projects

 

 

“Strengthening Freedom of Expression and Quality Journalism in the Digital Environment in Serbia”

The Project will be implemented by the OSCE

300,000 EUR;  March 2020 to August 2022

 

The overall objective of the project is to strengthen freedom of expression and quality journalism in the digital environment in support of democratic development of the Serbian society. A key priority of the project will be to help all relevant stakeholders to safeguard and strengthen freedom of expression and ensure pluralism of professional and objective voices in the digital era, including at the local level and minority outlets.

 

Key partners

·         Journalists and Media Associations

·         Government authorities such as Republic Prosecutor

·         Law enforcement authorities

·         Regulatory Authorities (REM, Press Council)

 

 

Expected results

·         Environment for exercising freedom of expression further improved through increasing implementation of safety standards for journalists’ and media.

·         Media including minority ones, journalists’ and media associations are empowered to respond to citizens’ needs in a digital society.

Activities

·         Direct work with authorities on all levels, to support the coherent and consistent implementation of all laws and regulations relevant to the freedom of information and the media and safety of journalists, as well as of the Governments’ new Media Strategy defining media policy in the period 2019-2024.

·         Organisation of programmes for journalists, representatives of the relevant authorities, civil society and academia on a range of issues relevant to the freedom of expression and the professional and digital development of media.

 

 

 

“Support to Media Reforms in the Republic of Serbia: Technical assistance to public broadcasting services RTS and RTV and support to media literacy”

697,200.00 EUR;  February 2018 to February 2020

 

The aim of the project is to support further media reform in Serbia, with specific focus on strengthening the role of public service media (Radio Television of Serbia and Radio Television of Vojvodina), increase of media literacy and supporting the implementation of the investigative reporting media grants.
 

Key partners

·         Radio Television of Serbia (RTS)

·         Radio Television of Vojvodina (RTV)

 

 

Expected results

·         Support to RTS and RTV;

·         Support to media literacy;

·         Support to grant monitoring.

 

Activities

·         In-house trainings with experts;

·         Study visits to Denmark and United Kingdom;

·         Establishment of the Working Group for Media Literacy (WGML);

·         Draft handbook on media literacy prepared by WGML.

 

 

“Strengthening capacities of the Press Council”

299,923.41 EUR;  July 2019 to July 2022

 

Objectives of the action are to support Press Council to actively promote professional and ethical standards in reporting of print and online media in accordance with the Journalist’s Code of Ethics and to raise awareness of the importance of media self-regulation among media professionals and the public.

 

Expected results

·         Strengthening the capacity of the Press Council to process complaints in a  transparent, timely and professional manner,

·         providing instructions and assistance to complainants when necessary,

·         mediating between citizens and newsrooms to resolve complaints,

·         efficiently resolving complaints as well as promoting the Journalist’s Code of Ethics

Key partner

·         Press Council

 

Activities

·         Guidance and training on processing complaints;

·         Training and on the job training;

·         Awareness raising an media activity on ethics in Journalism

 

 

“Freedom of expression and freedom of the media in Serbia (JUFREX)”

Under the joint programme of the Council of Europe and the European Union “Horizontal Facility for Western Balkans and Turkey II”

                                                                                       

585.000 EUR; May 2019 to May 2022

 

The goals of the action are: to promote freedom of expression and freedom of the media and to improve the application of European standards in this domain; to ensure protection of journalists and contribute to creation of enabling, safer and more pluralistic media environment; to strengthen skills and knowledge of the actors who are responsible to apply such standards as part of their daily work, namely: judges, prosecutors, lawyers, police officers, employees of Regulatory Authority for Electronic Media, students and other media actors.
Expected results

·         Legal professionals – judges, prosecutors, lawyers and police officers improve application of the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights case-law on freedom of expression;

·         Professional capacities of the Regulatory Authority for Electronic Media are further strengthened;

·         Faculty of Political Sciences and other relevant partners contribute to an enabling environment for freedom of expression and freedom of the media.

Key partners

·         Training institutions for legal professionals (Judicial Academy and Bar Association of Serbia);

·         Ministry of Interior;

·         Regulatory Authority for Electronic Media;

·         Faculty of Political Sciences, University of Belgrade;

·         Judges, prosecutors, police officers, lawyers;

·         Students;

·         Through strengthened freedom of expression and freedom of the media and ensured right to seek, impart and receive information, citizens of Serbia will be able to genuinely participate in democratic processes.

Activities

·         The Action builds upon a previous EU/CoE Regional Joint Programme Reinforcing Judicial Expertise on Freedom of Expression and the Media in South-East Europe (JUFREX);

·         The capacity building activities for the various professional categories adopt a dynamic methodology for adult learning and peer-to-peer model;

·         The action uses an inclusive approach in order to generate dialog between the different actors and relevant stakeholders;

·         The strong interconnection between JUFREX Regional Action and JUFREX Action in Serbia ensures strengthened co-operation, exchange of good practices and lessons learnt.

 

 

IPA Civil Society Facility and Media Programme (CSF)
 

Within the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) “Civil Society Facility and Media Programme” in Serbia, nine long-term grants to media were signed in December 2017 and they are still ongoing. Special attention was given to the fields of investigative and creative media production as well as in rule of law including anti-corruption, environmental protection, cultural diversity, media and digital literacy and the EU accession process in Serbia.

 

1.     “State and solidarity: Looking toward European Law- series of articles on social solidarity”, Novinsko preduzeće Vreme, 250,699.05 EUR, December 2017 to December 2020. The project’s objective of the weekly magazine Vreme is to bring into focus the topic of equality, security and freedom of speech as the foundation of social solidarity.

 

2.     “MISSING BABIES – Documentary Drama”, Monte Royal Pictures International 288,451.44 EUR, December 2017- May 2020. The activity represents a comprehensive and long-lasting investigation to be followed by production of high-quality documentary drama that shall be focused on the issue of missing babies in Serbia.

 

3.     “32 for 23 – Awareness on Rule of Law state of play and related EU Accession issues – production of TV serial”, Insajder Produkcija, 288,000.00 EUR, December 2017 to February 2020. The main project’s output is production of TV serial Debata (32 episodes of 60 minutes) based on investigative journalism which would be broadcasted on TV N1 and supported with TV packages for their website.

 

4.     “Rule of Law ‘Danas’- production of specialised supplement on Chapter 23”, Dangraf, 291,943.50 EUR, December 2017 to December 2021. The daily “Danas” will produce and publish specialised supplement named “Rule of Law Danas” (as two full pages per week during four years) which would be updated and uploaded to their website and through social media.

 

5.     “CATCH 23 – multimedia and multiplatform hard talk, news and investigative feature production on chapter 23”, Fonet, 298,625 EUR, December 2017 to December 2020. The main result of the project would be 120 integral video shows “Catch 23” (30′ weekly produced) consisting of introductory investigative journalism feature and 24′ “hard talk” /interviews with various interlocutors (representatives of many stakeholders) on specific topics selected from the addressed areas..

 

6.     “Reveal and Heal – Investigative Journalism as a Cure for Corruption in Judiciary”, KRIK, 157,401 EUR, December 2017 to December 2020. The objective is to contribute to fight against corruption in the judiciary and to support journalists to engage in investigative reporting by complex and wide research and analysis of judges from the Court of Appeal.

 

7.     “NO SECRET, television production on civilian control of the security system in Serbia”, JSP Production and Brendon, 233,989.74 EUR, December 2017 to June 2020. The TV production based on overall analysis (of the both legislation and practice) in the sector of civilian control of the security system.

 

8.     “Uncertain past – Timeline 1991- 2015, production of media archive”, EBART Consulting – Media Documentation, 293,856.03 EUR, December 2017 to  June 2021. The main project’s objective to contribute to increasing quality of media professionalism and digital literacy, as well as to cultural diversity “through increasing understanding and new interpretation of the events that took place in Serbia and the region in the period 1991-2015”.

 

9.     “Rule of Law and Public Funds Spending in Healthcare Sector in Serbia, series of investigative reports in monthly magazine”, Business Info Group D.O.O., 188,924.19 EUR, December 2017 to December 2019. The project’s objective of the specialised magazine New Economy is strengthening civic action in holding the government accountable in the area of rule of law in the healthcare sector with focus on 5 main themes (which will be treated from economic and businesses perspective): inefficiency of the system; violation of the right to healthcare access; corruption; lack of accountability and transparency; slow reforms of the sector towards the EU standards.

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