Advancing freedom of expression and freedom of the media will continue to be a key priority for the authorities in North Macedonia and for the EU and Council of Europe support to local beneficiaries in their efforts to promote freedom of speech in line with European standards. This was concluded during the first Steering Committee meeting of the EU and Council of Europe joint action “Protecting freedom of expression and of the media in North Macedonia” (PRO-FREX) organised in Skopje.
The event gathered key beneficiaries, partners and stakeholders in the field to discuss future milestones during the third phase of the joint EU and Council of Europe Horizontal Facility programme. After the detailed presentation and discussion of the four-year workplan, the Steering Committee members concluded that there is mutual commitment and a common understanding of what the action wants to achieve and how it is planned to achieve it.
The PRO-FREX action in North Macedonia builds upon the results from two previous EU/CoE joint actions on freedom of expression and the media. It is envisaged as a continuation and further enhancement of the well-established practices and modalities of cooperation with the beneficiaries. All representatives stressed the importance of this co-operation to contribute towards achieving European standards and improve the legal framework on freedom of expression, including access to information, and safety of journalists, as well as its judicial application.
A particular focus of the PRO-FREX work are the independent domestic authorities in the field of audio-visual media, protection of personal data and free access to information, which will be also assisted in implementing changes in their policies and practices in line with European standards. In addition, Media actors and relevant stakeholders are important actors to be assisted in the process of enabling a safer environment for freedom of expression and of the media in North Macedonia.
The action “Protecting Freedom of Expression and of the Media in North Macedonia” is part of the joint European Union and the Council of Europe programme “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Türkiye 2023-2026”.