At the EU-Western Balkans Media Days that took place in Tirana, Albania, on November 9-10, the European Commission announced it will invest in new initiatives to support independent journalism, sustainable media outlets, and boost regional cooperation among public service media.

“Freedom of expression is a fundamental value of the European Union and inextricably linked to further progress on the EU path,” said European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy & Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn.

According to a European Commission press release, the EU-Western Balkans Media Days pave the way to a more comprehensive approach to support independent media outlets, assist the expansion of media literacy in the region, help digitalisation and know-how transfer. A vibrant, economically sustainable, independent and pluralistic media sector is equally important for exercising freedom of expression as are the legal, political and judicial conditions that guarantee it.”

New EU funds will provide training for young and mid-career journalists across the region to boost investigative journalism. A new technical assistance programme for Public Service Broadcasters will support regional co-production of investigative journalism, media content for youth and digitalisation.

In addition, to support independent media, new actions with the European Endowment for Democracy will benefit start-ups for new independent media outlets and small-scale initiatives.