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Media Development

Brussels: Discussing the role of the media in the European Parliament

At a public panel discussion held in the European Parliament, MEPs and civil society representatives emphasized the role of the media in implementing global development goals. The event was initiated by DW Akademie.

Media and freedom of expression are on the EU's agenda: members of the Development Committee of the European Parliament stressed the importance of media development at last week's Policy Dialogue in Brussels. Michèle Striffler, member of the European People’s Party (EPP), called for freedom of expression to be included in the EU's development policies. Media Development is indispensable for democracy, stressed Thijs Berman, Socialist MEP (S&D). Some 50 representatives from civil society and politics joined the discussion with Patrick Leusch, Head of the International Cooperation division at DW Akademie; James Deane, Director of Policy and Learning at the BBC Media Action; Amadou Mahtar Ba, Director of the African Media Initiative; and Troy Etulain, Consultant at UNHCR.
Patrick Leusch, Head of DW Akademie's International Cooperation (photo: DW Akademie/Luisa Frey).

Patrick Leusch, DW Akademie

Discussions are well underway on the formulation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), which are set to follow the current Millennium Development Goals after 2015. All panelists agreed that freedom of expression and independent media should become central elements within the new goal of "good governance". However, it is not clear whether they will be included in the SDGs. James Dean said he regretted that the European Union was not playing an active role in the field of media and development.

When it comes to the relationship between media and good governance, Patrick Leusch stressed the need for professional and responsible journalism, and just as importantly, a politically and economically independent media sector. He said there is a clear link between freedom of expression and the democratic and economic development of a country. Amadou Mahtar Ba emphasized that the media can help make governments accountable.

Even though the EU is one of the world's largest donors in terms of development funding, the European Parliament has only ever dealt in passing with the role that media development plays. "This was the first time that we were able to have media development as a focus topic in the European Parliament," says Patrick Leusch, Head of DW Akademie’s International Cooperation division. "We're very happy about that and believe that freedom of expression and information are central elements in development cooperation and that media should play a more prominent role within EU development policies."