Over 250 representatives of media and media-organisations, stakeholders and policymakers from the Western Balkans and the EU will meet at the media conference in Tirana on 9 and 10 November 2017, dedicated to the important role of media in the accession process. Two panels and six workshops will provide the opportunity for participants to exchange their views and experience and to work jointly on forward-looking initiatives for independent, sustainable and professional media in the region.
Ahead of the event, Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, said: “Freedom of expression is a fundamental value of the EU and as such a cornerstone of the enlargement process, with a strong and independent press as a driver of the democratic transformation. It is a pillar of open and prosperous societies everywhere. The launch of the EU-Western Balkans Media Days will give a new impetus for strengthening media freedom and establishing a more vibrant, diverse and economically sound media landscape in the region, which is able to cope with the great challenges in the media sector“.
Freedom of media is one of the political criteria for the EU accession – a must for countries willing to join the EU. The endeavour of candidate countries and potential candidates to ensure the necessary conditions for media freedom takes place against the backdrop of a rapid transformation of the media landscape and significant shifts in media consumption patterns. While opening up new opportunities for sharing information, this changing environment in the media sector brings risks, including a decline in professional standards
The EU – Western Balkans Media Days will broaden the spectrum of media-related issues to cover also the economic sustainability of the media sector, in particular new business models, distortion of competition, advertising markets and transparent financing. The results of the conference will contribute to adjusting the approach to EU assistance to strengthen the media sector in the Western Balkans.