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Wednesday, 2 April 2014 - Brussels
Role of broadcasting media in projecting the EU and its values

European Parliament recommendation to the Council, the Commission and the European External Action Service of 2 April 2014 on the role of broadcasting media in projecting the EU and its values (2013/2187(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Articles 2 and 21 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU),

–  having regard to Article 167 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948 and to all relevant international human rights instruments, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,

–  having regard to Protocol No 29, annexed to the Treaty of Lisbon, on the system of public broadcasting in the Member States,

–  having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, in particular Article 11 thereof,

–  having regard to the EU guidelines on human rights,

–  having regard to the Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy adopted by the Council on 25 June 2012(1),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 3 October 2007 entitled ‘Communicating Europe in Partnership’ (COM(2007)0568) and to the Commission proposal of 3 October 2007 for an interinstitutional agreement on ‘Communicating Europe in Partnership’ (COM(2007)0569),

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 November 2010 on ‘public service broadcasting in the digital era: the future of the dual system’(2),

–  having regard to Directive 2010/13/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 10 March 2010 on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the provision of audiovisual media services (Audiovisual Media Services Directive)(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 May 2011 on the cultural dimensions of the EU’s external actions(4),

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 December 2012 on a digital freedom strategy in EU foreign policy(5),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 June 2013 on freedom of the press and media in the world(6),

–  having regard to the its resolution of 24 October 2013 on the Annual Report from the Council to the European Parliament on the Common Foreign and Security Policy(7),

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 December 2013 on the Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2012 and the European Union’s policy on the matter(8),

–  having regard to the European Charter on Freedom of the Press,

–  having regard to its resolutions of 22 November 2012 on ‘Enlargement: policies, criteria and the EU’s strategic interests’(9), of 12 December 2013 on the 2013 progress report on Albania(10), of 6 February 2014 on the 2013 progress report on Bosnia and Herzegovina(11), of 6 February 2014 on the 2013 progress report on the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia(12), of 16 January 2014 on the 2012 progress report on Iceland and the post‑election perspectives(13), of 16 January 2014 on the European integration process of Kosovo(14), of 6 February 2014 on the 2013 progress report on Montenegro(15), of 16 January 2014 on the 2013 progress report on Serbia(16), of 12 March 2014 on the 2013 progress report on Turkey(17), of 23 October 2013 on ‘the European Neighbourhood Policy: towards a strengthening of the partnership. Position of the European Parliament on the 2012 reports’(18), of 23 May 2013 on asset recovery by Arab Spring countries in transition(19), of 14 March 2013 on EU-China relations(20), and of 13 December 2012 containing the European Parliament’s recommendations to the Council, the Commission and the European External Action Service on the negotiations of the new EU-Russia Agreement(21),

–  having regard to Rule 97 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A7-0248/2014),

A.  whereas independent European broadcasting media offer the public – in Europe and worldwide – a joint vision, support the values enshrined in the EU Treaties, such as human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression, and promote pluralism, independent thought, cultural diversity, plurality of vision and the fundamental value of fostering non-violent conflict resolution, tolerance and respect, both within the EU and in the context of its external relations;

B.  whereas any threat to media independence, whether through government interference, intimidation of journalists, a lack of transparency in ownership structures or overriding commercial interests, upsets the overall state of media freedom and pluralism in any country;

C.  whereas governments bear the primary responsibility for guaranteeing and protecting freedom of expression and the media, notwithstanding the EU’s role in overseeing the application of Article 11 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights when Member States are implementing EU law; whereas it is enshrined in EU law, in particular in Protocol No 29 annexed to the TEU, that the system of public broadcasting in the Member States is directly related to the democratic, social and cultural needs of each society and to the need to preserve media pluralism;

D.  whereas radio and television broadcasting, increasingly complemented by online media services, is an effective and cost-efficient way to reach the public in Europe and in third countries, and constitutes the main source of information for most citizens in the EU and beyond;

E.  whereas new digital and online media platforms have contributed to increased diversity and pluralism and are of special significance in countries where access to more traditional sources of information is restricted;

F.  whereas European media broadcasting internationally can play an important role in communicating the values of democracy, media freedom and human rights throughout the world, in explaining different national perceptions, in communicating EU policies, in shaping a genuine European perspective and in providing audiences with reliable and high‑quality information, most significantly by means of a firm and unyielding commitment to journalistic objectivity;

G.  whereas broadcasting for democratisation and promotion of human rights in third countries does not explicitly fall within the remit of EU media policy;

H.  whereas there is a need to establish a coherent European media broadcasting strategy in the EU’s external relations in order to promote the EU’s underpinning values and its goals as a global actor, as well as to shape debates and build understanding of foreign policy issues;

I.  whereas the EU’s provision of initial funding for ‘European Radio for Belarus’ and of continuous project‑based support for independent broadcasting media in third countries are good examples of promoting freedom of expression and other fundamental rights and freedoms in the framework of the common foreign and security policy (CFSP);

J.  whereas setting up a worldwide European radio service could be very useful as a comprehensive tool for the EU’s external relations and the promotion of universal democratic values and human rights; whereas the use of online technologies could facilitate such an initiative;

K.  whereas the EU supports the international news channel Euronews, which is broadcast in 13 languages, is understood by 53 % of the world’s population, is distributed to 410 million households in 155 countries, has worldwide satellite coverage, is the leading channel in terms of potential audience in Europe and among non-Arabic news channels in Arab countries and sub-Saharan Africa, and is accessible free of charge worldwide via various mobile devices;

L.  whereas the EU has had a service contract with Euronews since 2005, providing it with core funding of EUR 5 million per year to produce and broadcast a number of programmes on European affairs; whereas two other service contracts, worth EUR 5 million per year over five years, were signed in 2007 and 2009 for Euronews broadcasts in Arabic and Farsi respectively; whereas in December 2010 the EU and Euronews signed a multiannual framework partnership agreement; whereas the Commission’s financial contribution to Euronews for 2013 was established by the Commission decision of 8 May 2013 concerning the adoption of the amended 2013 work programme in the field of communication, serving as a financing decision (C(2013)2631); whereas Euronews’s estimated revenue for 2014 is made up of shareholders’ licence fees (9 %), commercial profits (49 %) and funding from the Commission and its various directorates-general (42 %);

M.  whereas editorial independence from any political interference, along with impartiality, diversity and respect for viewers, is a key element of Euronews’s annual statement of commitment to viewers(22);

N.  whereas in 2009 the Commission carried out an evaluation of the Euronews core contract, which confirmed the unique and cost-effective status of Euronews as a pan-European news provider, reaching out to more viewers in Europe than its rival international news channels(23);

1.  Addresses the following recommendations to the Council, the Commission and the European External Action Service:

   (a) to understand the importance of free European media, and in particular of financially sustainable and independent public service broadcasting, in promoting EU democratic values and informing the public about policies and goals in the sphere of the CFSP, notably by enhancing understanding of the issues that unite and divide Europe and bringing European citizens closer together as regards their understanding of foreign policy;
   (b) to establish a coherent and robust EU media broadcasting strategy in the context of the EU’s external relations, thereby promoting freedom of expression and media pluralism and upholding and strengthening democracy and human rights in Europe and in third countries; to make this broadcasting strategy an integrated tool of the CFSP;
  (c) to define, as part of this strategy, a specific approach to European broadcasting media – notwithstanding the independence of the media and the competence of Member States to confer, define and organise the public service broadcasting remit – which:
   (i) fosters an enabling media environment in third countries for the development of independent and professional broadcasting media;
  (ii) encourages European media broadcasting internationally to:
   operate in a pluralistic and competitive media environment – having immediate access to first-hand current news, being able to make use of the advantages of the latest technologies and staying at the forefront of the digital revolution – and create authentic and diversified content;
   be editorially independent;
   adhere to a broadcasting charter requiring accurate and objective news coverage and a balanced and comprehensive projection of the diversity of the EU and its Member States, to adhere to a journalistic code with a special emphasis on policies aimed at guaranteeing journalistic independence, accuracy and balance, and in this respect to establish their own independent codes of conduct and to define editorial lines;
   offer a platform for the exchange of opinions and debate pertaining to socially and/or politically relevant issues, thus leading and shaping the debate from a European perspective, thanks to a wide network of correspondents, and stimulating public interest and participation by citizens;
   use the various methods of broadcasting news and opinion programmes, including TV, radio, the internet, online broadcasting, the social media and mobile platforms, in order to ensure the broadest possible outreach to public audiences outside the EU;
   reflect appropriately the diversity of opinions and contexts in the EU, including the views and realities of the newer Member States;
   be active in training future leading European and non-European journalists;
   not be afraid of tackling serious issues in depth and presenting the objective reality from multiple perspectives;
  (d) to consider that Euronews, with its broad network of national broadcasters and its wide distribution, has the potential to play an important role in the media landscape and in stimulating the debate on Europe, including in third countries; to acknowledge also, however, that in order to play such a role Euronews should:
   (i) have the means to continue to operate in various languages, including non‑European languages;
   (ii) continue to strive to strengthen its editorial independence;
   (iii) have the means to promote education and training opportunities for journalists in connection with European issues, and to continue to offer training opportunities for external journalists, especially through its Euronews Network project;
   (iv) be further strengthened financially and structurally in order to be able to perform at a level comparable to that of worldwide news channels;
   (v) publish on its website an overview of its revenue so as to provide transparency of its operations;
   (e) to direct project-based EU external aid funding towards those broadcasters that already respect and work in accordance with the highest standards of journalistic independence, accuracy and balance and promote EU values, as well as to projects which would enable those broadcasters that lag behind in terms of independence, accuracy and sustainability to reach these standards, bearing in mind that evaluation of performance on the basis of measurable criteria should be a precondition for any further funding;
   (f) to launch a reflection process at EU level with the aim of establishing a worldwide European radio service;
   (g) to systematically address, in order to maximise the impact of the proposed EU broadcasting strategy in the context of the EU’s external relations, the issue of restrictions on media freedom in all bilateral meetings with the relevant third countries;
   (h) to raise the Member States’ awareness of the importance of broadcasting media for the EU’s external relations, and to seek ways to coordinate the proposed EU strategy with Member States’ actions and strategies in this field in order to enhance coherence;
   (i) to work towards the creation of an enabling media environment in third countries, along with the development of independent and professional broadcasting media;
   (j) to react swiftly when satellite signals from European media broadcasting internationally are jammed in third countries, and when third-country governments suspend broadcasting by European media;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this recommendation to the Council, the Commission and the European External Action Service and, for information, to the Member States.

(1) Council document 11855/2012.
(2) OJ C 99 E, 3.4.2012, p. 50.
(3) OJ L 95, 15.4.2010, p. 1.
(4) OJ C 377 E, 7.12.2012, p. 135.
(5) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0470.
(6) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0274.
(7) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0453.
(8) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0575.
(9) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0453.
(10) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0596.
(11) Texts adopted, P7_T(2014)0102.
(12) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0103.
(13) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0041.
(14) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0040.
(15) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0104.
(16) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0039.
(17) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0235.
(18) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0446.
(19) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0224.
(20) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0097.
(21) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0505.

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