The EU’s Role in the Democratization of the Wider Neighbourhood - Freedom of Expression and Media
This panel brings together several contributions dealing with the European Union (EU)’s role in processes of democratization in its wider neighbourhood. Literature on the topic emphasises that the EU has been an international actor promoting democracy both inside and outside its borders. However, recent events at the internal and international level – including the rise of far-right parties and authoritarianism, conflicts in the immediate neighbourhood (Ukraine and the Middle East and North Africa region) and the overall decrease in democracy indicators in the neighbourhood – suggests that the EU’s approach to the democratization of its partners has had at least limited results. In order to delve into this topic, the panel proposes the comparative analysis of 4 case-studies at the micro and meso levels of EU external relations – Turkey, Russia (meso), Georgia and Montenegro (micro). Following a constructivist model of analysis, the panel explores specifically the freedom of expression in the media, identified by the EU as a key indicator to measure the level of commitment to democracy, good governance and political accountability. The goal is to analyse and compare the evolution of democracy in the selected case studies and to triangulate them with the EU’s external and neighbouring policies towards these key partners, in order to assess the EU’s role in the democratization of the wider neighbourhood.
Presentations of the Symposium
Turkey and the EU: Freedom of Expression and Corruption since 2010
Turkey is one the countries where the deterioration of the quality of democracy has been a virtually unanimous finding within academia. Given this scenario, and the the country’s long path towards the accession in the European Union, it is the intention of this paper to evaluate some indicators related to the country’s compliance with democratic demands of the Europeanisation process, such as Human Rights – especially the freedom of the press –, and corruption. In order to evaluate the EU’s leverage, it will be considered an analysis since 2010, the year of the creation of the European Union External Action Service.
This reflection will be based on a literature review on the subjects under consideration, in addition to the use of official documents such as the European Commission progress reports, Human Rights Watch annual reports, quantitative indicators of various international organizations in the dimensions under scrutiny and also analysis of the statistics of the European Court of Human Rights. Through this course, it is hoped to inductively infer conclusions about the evolution of Turkey’s democratic performance and, possibly, to associate this performance with the EU’s influence.
Facing a Brick Wall? The EU’s Role in Democracy Promotion and Freedom of Expression in the Media in Russia
As a global actor, the European Union (EU) is committed to the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law. Overall, the goal of the European Union when interacting with key partners is to promote democratization and fundamental freedoms as a means to contribute to a more secure international environment. However, a decline in democratization processes and fundamental freedoms at the regional level suggests that the EU has played a limited role in this field. Following on this reflection, this paper examines the EU’s contribution to the democratization of its partners, by using Russia as a case-study, particularly in the field of freedom of expression in the media. Despite the centrality of this fundamental freedom – as framed by the EU-Russia Four Common Spaces, for instance – there has been a continued trend of restricted freedom of expression in Russia, including interference of the government in the media and the persecution of journalists. In order to delve into this topic, the paper focuses on EU-Russia relations since 2010, when the European External Action Service was created and assumed itself as the EU’s diplomatic service aiming at making EU foreign policy more effective and coherent. By using a qualitative methodological approach, the paper argues that despite this new trend, the EU’s role as a democracy promoter remains contingent on the willingness of its partners, thus revealing the limits of the EU’s agenda and influence as a global and security actor.
A Half Full, Half Empty Tale: EU’s Influence on Georgia’s Democratic Dilemmas
Since the early 1990’s that Georgia has been the most enthusiastic state in the Caucasus to look to the EU as a natural diplomatic partner. The EU-Georgia Association Agreement was signed in 2014, while Armenia signed a similar document only in 2017. However, Georgia remains an interesting case of a “half full, half empty” dilemma.
Georgia has had regular non-violent electoral cycles, with the EU being both a partner to organize the elections as well as a theme of those same elections. International observers have been almost unanimous agreeing on how free and competitive elections are in Georgia [half full] and yet they have also regularly pointed out imbalances in the allocation and usage of State resources, the latest during the Presidential elections of November/December 2018 [half empty].
Georgia is clearly committed to fulfil all the objectives of the agenda signed under the EU’s EaP initiative [half full] but chronical corruption in the application of bureaucracy and the pernicious effect of the judicialization of politics undermines the democratization of the country [half empty].
The main objective of the paper is to measure, using both quantitative and qualitative indicators, the influence and ability of EU’s External Services to shape governance and to improve the level of political accountability in Georgia since 2010.
Assessing Media Freedom in Contemporary Montenegro
Media Freedom is one important indicator of a democratic society. It has been recognized as a central basic prerequisite for joining the European Union. In this paper we analyse the importance of media freedom in the democratization processes and argue that in the Western Balkan region, media are still vulnerable to all kind of pressures, being difficult to be truly independent and impartial.
Looking to the specific situation of media in Montenegro, a candidate country to EU accession, we include a description of the relevant legislative framework, and we assess what has changed in this sector in the last years. We argue that media freedom and the democratic social and political functioning of a state are mutually dependent. This means that media cannot be considered in isolation from the political, economic and social internal context.
This study relies on a qualitative research methodology, in which a literature study account for the research data. To characterize the media sector in Montenegro, we will encompass data from Intergovernmental Organizations such as the European Union, as well as from non-governmental organizations, such as Freedom House and Reporters without Borders.