From: Alice Taylor
EC: Albania’s Deteriorating Media Freedom to Be Priority During Accession Negotiations

The European Commission has told Exit it will be taking Albania’s recent deterioration in media freedom, as per the Reporters Without Borders World Press Index 2020 into account when opening EU accession negotiations.

Exit asked whether Albania’s big drop over the last three years is a cause for concern and whether it will be taken into account during the opening of accession talks. A spokesperson from the Commission confirmed that issues related to the rule of law and fundamental rights, including media freedom “are at the core of the Enlargement process and will be amongst the priority areas to be addressed in future negotiations.”

The Commission added that they are preparing their annual assessment which includes a chapter on fundamental human rights. They said that in this context, “the Commission will take stock of thee developments in the mentioned policy areas.

In terms of the anti-defamation package, they expect that further amendments will be made once the Venice Commission issues its opinion. This they said, will hopefully bring it in line with all relevant international and European standards.

When asked about the governments deliberate exclusion of media from its COVID-19 financial aid packages, the Commission said they hope the government “will do all that is with its powers to counter unemployment and mitigate other negative effects of the prolonged lockdown across all sectors.”

They highlighted the fact the Commission has given EUR 50,65 million in grant funding and EUR 180 million in macro-financial assistance. In addition to this, Albania will also benefit from EUR455 for medium-term assistance for the private sector which will be channelled through the banks.

Prime Minister Edi Rama refused to assist media houses in crisis, stating they are “big businesses” and that it’s not the job of the government to help journalists.