The European Commission has recruited the EBU to stimulate and support public broadcasting reform in countries aspiring to become member states.
Open public broadcasting free from government interference, as well as general media freedom and pluralism, are key criteria that countries have to meet before becoming EU members. The EBU and the Commission, which is the EU executive body, will collaborate to help enlargement countries establish public service media that fulfill standards of independence, effectiveness, public accountability and economic sustainability.
"The EU enlargement process is about assisting the aspirant countries with their transformation and reaching European standards in all areas of life,” said EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Stefan Füle. “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."
This was echoed by EBU President Jean-Paul Philippot.
"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.”
The next country to join, Croatia, is set to become the 28th member of the EU on July 1, 2013, and will have already met the Commission’s criteria for public service broadcasting. The new Memorandum of Understanding is aimed more at the five official candidate states of Iceland, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey, still in negotiations with the EU and likely to become members within five to 10 years. It also includes countries such as Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina that are preparing applications for EU membership.
Commissioner Füle also indicated that support would be given for public broadcasting in so-called Southern and Eastern Neighborhood countries in the Caucasus region and northern Africa that are not likely to become members in the foreseeable future.