The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and the European Commission have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to support the reform of public broadcasting and promote its sustainability in the countries that aspire to join the European Union.
Public broadcasting reform, as well as media freedom and pluralism, are key accession criteria for countries wishing to enter the EU.
The EBU and the Commission will work together to help enlargement countries establish public service media that fulfill standards of independence, effectiveness, public accountability and economic sustainability.
Welcoming the agreement, the EU commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Stefan Fule said: “The EU enlargement process is about assisting the aspirant countries with their transformation and reaching European standards in all areas of life. For the challenging task of helping public broadcasters with the reform, we have an important ally with the necessary expertise and experience, the EBU, with whom we share the same goals of promoting freedom of expression and public service media.”
EBU president Jean-Paul Philippot also hailed the partnership. “The EBU is extremely pleased that the European Commission has recognised our work across Europe in supporting broadcasting reform, training and capacity-building for journalists and media professionals. We look forward to the challenge, and to strengthening cooperation in other EU neighbouring countries over the years to come.”
The EBU President said the task of reforming public broadcasters will be complex if changes are to be sustained.
“Public broadcasters not only need financial continuity, they require protection from undue political interference and the potential to work with modern technologies – indispensable in today’s fast paced media environment. All this should be combined with living up to the core values of public service media: universality, independence, excellence, diversity, accountability and innovation.’
Commissioner Fule also expressed support for the EBU’s work in the Caucasus and northern Africa. Both Fule and Philippot agreed to have more coordinated and closer cooperation in these so-called Southern and Eastern Neighbourhood countries.