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Home » Flagship proposals

Make ‘Information for citizens’ a European Service of General Interest (SGI)

Submitted by on November 14, 2011 – 10:03One Comment

The recog­ni­tion of the essen­tial role played by a broad range of media in spread­ing inde­pen­dent, plu­ral­ist and high qual­ity infor­ma­tion on Europe

  • Replace, in all new offi­cial com­mu­ni­ca­tion and all new polit­i­cal deci­sions on SGIs, ‘pub­lic ser­vice broad­cast­ing’ with ‘infor­ma­tion for cit­i­zens’
    • In this way the leg­is­la­tion on the appli­ca­tion of state aid rules can be rede­fined.

Explana­tory statement

We do think that SGIs are a good way to more effi­ciently guar­an­tee the rights of cit­i­zens in the Euro­pean Union.

The com­mon val­ues of the Euro­pean Union expressed in the Ams­ter­dam Treaty then became con­se­crated rights in the EU Char­ter of Fun­da­men­tal Rights; the SGIs became, through the Lis­bon Treaty, an autonomous Com­mu­nity legal object.

In terms of media activ­ity, cur­rently only broad­cast­ing is recog­nised by Mem­ber States as one of the pub­lic ser­vices. Smaller-scale sup­port to press projects, from the com­mu­nity or com­mer­cial sec­tor, is con­sid­ered as an unjus­ti­fied State Aid liable to be con­demned by the Com­mis­sion and the Court of Jus­tice of the Euro­pean Union.

A lot of com­mu­nity news­pa­pers and mag­a­zines play a part in infor­ma­tion plu­ral­ism. But they can hardly afford their run­ning costs and have suf­fered from the sky­rock­et­ing charges for press dis­tri­b­u­tion since the pri­vati­sa­tion of the postal ser­vices, which has made some of them sim­ply give up print­ing. They also have lim­ited access to TV broad­cast­ing fre­quen­cies and can only develop activ­i­ties on the Web.

The com­mer­cial press can also some­times offer inter­est­ing cov­er­age in terms of inte­grat­ing Euro­pean with local infor­ma­tion. But while these pro­duc­tions may be led by com­mit­ted jour­nal­ists, since they are often in con­fronta­tion with their edi­to­r­ial man­age­ment these such projects are often the first to be shelved under the cur­rent con­di­tions of finan­cial unable to resist the crisis.

The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion has repeat­edly recog­nised the impor­tance of hav­ing a wide range of media in order to guar­an­tee fair infor­ma­tion, and to favour social inclu­sive­ness and pub­lic debate. (In the White Paper on Euro­pean Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Pol­icy and the Com­mu­ni­ca­tion from the Com­mis­sion on the Appli­ca­tion of State Aid Rules to Pub­lic Ser­vice Broad­cast­ing, among others).

Mak­ing not only broad­cast­ing but all kinds of infor­ma­tion for cit­i­zens into a SGI would allow Mem­ber States to sup­port more effi­ciently the plu­ral­i­sa­tion of information.

The def­i­n­i­tion of a new Com­mu­nity frame­work for State Aid is cur­rently on the agenda with the upcom­ing expiry of the “Monti-Altmark-Kroes” frame­work in Novem­ber 2011. So now would be an appro­pri­ate time to address this issue.

Related posts:

  1. Inté­grer “l’information du citoyen” dans les Ser­vices d’Intérêt Général européens ( SIG)
  2. The future of Euro­pean infor­ma­tion and pub­lic broad­cast­ers hand in hand
  3. Local level Euro­pean jour­nal­ism? The best way to inter­est peo­ple in Euro­pean matters
  4. Viviane Red­ing: the con­fis­ca­tion of infor­ma­tion as strat­egy of communication?
  5. Cit­i­zens for Europe: ‘Giv­ing a voice to the Euro­pean civil society’

One Comment »

  • Esther Durin says:

    Euro­pean cor­re­spon­dent and for­mer IPA Pres­i­dent, Michael Stabenow, alerts us. In his opin­ion, with such a pro­vi­sion, states could impose new con­straints on press and threaten its edi­to­r­ial inde­pen­dence. For MEP Bernadette Vergnaud, it mainly depends on the financ­ing modal­i­ties of the pub­lic ser­vice information.

    What do you think?

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