Supporting press freedom and dialogue

Celebrating press freedom
'No Disconnect' – the EU in defence of online freedom of expression
EU-sponsored media awards
Regional Information and Communications Programme
Find out more…

Celebrating press freedom
Every year, 3 May is set aside to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom, in an international day proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993 following a recommendation from UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation).
The themes for this year’s World Press Freedom Day are:
The main event of World Press Freedom day will be take place in Tunis from 3 to 5 May 2012, jointly organised by UNESCO and the Tunisian government, highlighting the transformative power of new media in the Arab Spring.
Speaking last year on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton described freedom of opinion and expression as "a fundamental right of every human being and an inherent part of human dignity. It is also a cornerstone of democracy and crucial for the free flow of information to which everyone is entitled."
"As the recent events in countries neighbouring the EU illustrate, it is thanks not only to the professional commitment of journalists and other media professionals, but also to the many private bloggers, that the world learns about the situation on the ground and people's aspirations for freedom and social justice," she said.
This year's themes for World Press Freedom Day echo the EU's own commitment to media freedom in its neighbourhood, and its concern at any efforts to clamp down on freedom of expression, including on the internet.
“The Arab spring vividly reminds us that human rights are universal and that people everywhere aspire to live in dignity and freedom,” said EU High Representative Catherine Ashton in a statement marking Human Rights Day in December. "In 2011, thousands of people decided that the time had come to claim their rights. Social media carried their message, and allowed activists and individuals to break free from their isolation, to disseminate ideas and to denounce oppression.”
“Use of social media to promote human rights should not be restricted by governments," Ashton added. "The EU has repeatedly and publicly condemned restrictions on freedom of expression and on access to the internet, as well as the arrest of bloggers, witnessed in many countries around the world.”
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'No Disconnet - the EU in defence of online freedom of expression
In the wake of the Arab Spring, the EU last December launched its 'No Disconnect Strategy' to protect internet access as a driver of political freedom.
Announcing the Strategy, the Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes, said: “In 2011 video-sharing services helped expose regime abuses. They made us aware and better able to take action. Repressive regimes now understand the power of these networks and have tried to turn them off. They did not succeed. And the EU is working to ensure online rights are respected like offline rights.”
The ‘No Disconnect Strategy’ will assist people in four ways:
  1. Developing and providing technological tools to enhance privacy and security of people living in non-democratic regimes when using ICT.
  2. Educating and raising awareness of activists about the opportunities and risks of ICT. In particular assisting activists to make best use of tools such as social networks and blogs while raising awareness of surveillance risks when communicating via ICT.
  3. Gathering high quality intelligence about what is happening on the ground in order to monitor the level of surveillance and censorship at a given time, in a given place.
  4. Cooperation. Developing a practical way to ensure that all stakeholders can share information on their activity and promote multilateral action and building cross-regional cooperation to protect human rights.
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Supporting the media in the neighbourhood
The EU recognises the value of dialogue with and support for journalists and the media in its neighbourhood. To this end, it funds projects that range from journalism training and networking to journalistic productions and visits and also organises media awards.

EU-sponsored media awards
As part of its commitment to press freedom across the world, the EU organises and supports a number of global and regional media awards, which are open to countries in the European neighbourhood. These include:
Lorenzo Natali Journalism Prize
The Lorenzo Natali Journalism Prize is a global award that has been organised since 1992 by DG Development. It is dedicated to supporting journalists committed to development, democracy and human rights.
In 2011, seventeen journalists from all over the world were awarded the EU’s Lorenzo Natali Prize for outstanding journalistic work covering these types of issues. They were chosen from more than 1,300 participants.
The award is open to press and online media, TV and radio. It is an integral part of the Commission's development policy, which holds that it is vital to defend fundamental freedoms, freedom of expression, democracy and human rights. Apart from a grand prize it has prizes for regions of the world, including the Maghreb and Middle East, as well as Europe. The winner in each region wins €5,000.
Samir Kassir Award – Delegation Lebanon
The Samir Kassir Award, which is given by the European Union in collaboration with the Samir Kassir Foundation, perpetuates the commitment of murdered Lebanese journalist and writer Samir Kassir to human rights and the rule of law. Organised every year by the EU Delegation in Lebanon since 2006 and growing in popularity, it has rewarded journalists who have proved to be an example to others by the quality of their work. 634 journalists have taken part in the contest since it was created in 2006. It is open to journalists from the Mediterranean, the Middle East and the Gulf.
"Samir Kassir's memory and values are more alive than ever in this period of transition in a newer Mediterranean region,” said Ambassador Angelina Eichhorst, Head of the EU Delegation in Beirut, launching this year's edition of the award.
“The media landscape has changed beyond recognition,” the Ambassador said in a message on the award website. “Social media played a crucial role during the Arab Spring giving journalists, bloggers and peaceful demonstrators the means to bypass traditional media outlets and overcome the barrier of fear by expressing ideas, sharing news, organising protests and highlighting injustices. The European Union is committed to respecting and defending freedom and pluralism of media throughout the world, and will keep denouncing arrests and unjustified restrictions on the work of journalists and human rights defenders.”
Two awards will be granted for the best ‘Opinion article’and the best ‘Investigative reporting article’ related to the rule of law or human rights (good governance, fight against corruption, freedom of expression, etc.). The winner of each category will receive €10,000 at a prize-giving ceremony to take place in Beirut on 2 June.
ENPI Info Centre feature – Award improves journalists’ lives  
Anna Lindh Foundation Mediterranean Journalist Award
Launched in 2006, the Anna Lindh Foundation’s Mediterranean Journalist Award aims to promote and recognise the positive role played by journalists in reporting on issues of cultural diversity and providing balanced and informed coverage beyond the ‘clash of civilisations’ headline. The award is open to journalists from all 43 countries of the Union for the Mediterranean, and involves, press, radio, television and blogs.
The award aims at rewarding exceptional journalistic productions, contributing to a better understanding of the diversity of cultures in the Euro-Mediterranean region as well as promoting the positive role played by journalists in providing balanced and informed coverage on cultural issues in the region.
Last year, winners received prizes of €3,000 in the award categories of press, online media, radio, and TV, as well as special recognition awards which went to a Palestinian blogger from Gaza and an Egyptian writer at the forefront of the revolution.
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Regional Information and Communication Programme
The Regional Information and Communication Programme, which runs 2011 to 2014 with a total EU budget of €14 million, aims to improve knowledge of the European Union and its neighbourhood policy. The programme contributes to greater understanding of EU policies and highlights cooperation actions carried out in the region. At the same time it works on developing sustainable communication networks and aims to strengthen the capacity and competences of journalists in the area of European affairs.
The countries taking part in the programme are: Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Occupied Palestinian Territory, Syria, Tunisia (South) and Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine (East).
The programme covers three projects:
EU Neighbourhood Info Centre (ENPI Info Centre)
The project provides an electronic platform in four languages (English, French, Arab and Russian) on European Union cooperation programmes and its relations with neighbourhood countries, with a wide range of information disseminated on a daily basis via electronic alerts. The project has also produced nearly 200 reportages in the neighbourhood region plus over 40 interviews and has a photo gallery containing nearly 2,000 images, as well as a virtual library bringing together over 700 key documents on the EU’s relations with its partner countries. The centre also organises training workshops on the communication of cooperation programmes and offers a support service for EU delegations in their communications activities. The project is managed by Action Global Communications, an independent network of public relations agencies based in Cyprus and works in partnership with the Mediterranean press agency ANSAMed.
Journalists training and networking
The project offers training sessions for journalists from partner countries on the EU relations, cooperation and policy while working on setting up a network of journalists from the European neighbourhood area to strengthen dialogue and share experience. The project plans to organise 108 events, which 260 journalists and 500 journalism students will benefit from. The project is run by a consortium led by BBC Media Action.
Media monitoring and opinion surveys (European neighbourhood barometer)
The project monitors and provides media analysis of European cooperation activities in the neighbouring countries of the EU, and produces opinion surveys in the form of European neighbourhood barometers, thereby making it possible to measure perceptions of the EU in the partner countries. The project will carry out two surveys per year of the public at large in each of the 17 partner countries and a special survey on a hot topic as well as polls of opinion leaders. The project is being run by a consortium led by TNS Opinion. 
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Find out more...
UNESCO World Press Freedom Day 2012
EU Neighbourhood Info Centre webpage – Audiovisual & Media (east)
EU Neighbourhood Info Centre webpage – Audiovisual & Media (south)
EU Neighbourhood Info Centre – Journalists’ Handbook
Regional Information and Communication Programme
European sites for Journalists
European Journalism Centre -
EU4 Journalists -
Media Websites
European Commission Audiovisual and Media Policies
UNESCO information and communication activities: Arab states ; Europe
IFJ Middle East and North Africa ; Europe      
Reporters without Borders Middle East and North Africa ; Europe and ex-USSR
International Freedom of Expression eXchange (IFEX) Middle East and North Africa ; Europe and Central Asia
Institute for War and Peace Reporting – Caucausus
Institute for War and Peace Reporting – The Arab Spring
Institute for War and Peace Reporting - Lebanon
Institute for War and Peace Reporting - Libya: Media in Transition
Arab Press Network (World Association of Newspapers)
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information
International Press Institute
Press freedom: safety of journalists and impunity – UNESCO
Gunning for Media: IFJ Report on Journalists and Media Staff Killed in 2010
Freedom House Report: Freedom of the Press 2012 – Freedom House
Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents – Reporters without Borders
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