Bringing together 350 media professionals and donors from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Republic of Moldova, Ukraine as well as the EU Member States and beyond, it offers a unique platform to identify the obstacles to healthy media environment, discuss ways of addressing them, and examine how the European Union and other donors can best support independent journalism in these countries.
In his message to the participants, Johannes Hahn, the Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, stressed that ''Freedom of expression is one of the very foundations on which our Union is built. We believe that a strong, independent press is fundamental to successful societies everywhere. Today's conference clearly shows the importance of closer engagement of the EU with partner countries on the issues of plurality and independence of media.''
The event is organised by the European Commission together with the European External Action Service and with the support of the Government of Ukraine.
Over the past decade, the European Union has spent and earmarked about €30 million in support of media initiatives in Eastern partner countries. Independent journalism is an essential condition for the development of a democratic society and the European Union remains deeply committed to a free, independent, and pluralistic media landscape in its neighbourhood.
The conference will look at the different pressures experienced by media workers in the Eastern Neighbourhood. Participants will discuss solutions to achieve economic sustainability in news and story production, as well as difficulties they face in reforming the public broadcasting sectors.
The conference will, in particular, discuss methods to make media outlets more sustainable and to help journalists continue to grow professionally. The challenges posed by disinformation campaigns and efforts to spread biased or misleading information on social media will also be discussed, with a focus on how media can help increase critical thinking in society.
The European Endowment for Democracy (EED) will host a pre-event to share its experience in supporting independent media in the Eastern partner countries. It will focus on the role of independent media outlets in the context of rapidly changing political landscapes and transforming societies.
The EED is a private, grant-giving organisation funded by individual EU Member States and the European institutions.
The 2nd Eastern Partnership Media Conference is held in preparation for the 5th Eastern Partnership Summit, to be held in Brussels in November 2017. The discussions and practical findings of the conference will provide a basis for further considerations at the Summit.