The action “Protecting freedom of expression and of the media in Serbia (PRO-FREX)" enables the beneficiary institutions and civil society organisations in Serbia to progress towards meeting their reform agendas in the field of freedom of expression and freedom of media, in line with the European standards.

It aims at contributing to an improved environment for the exercise, in particular by journalists and media actors, of their rights of freedom of expression, in a more pluralistic and safer media environment, in line with the standards as set by Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

This action is implemented within the joint programme of the European Union and the Council of Europe “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Türkiye” running from 2023 until 2026.

What are the goals and objectives of the action?

  • to promote freedom of expression and freedom of the media and to improve the application of European standards
  • to enhance the protection of journalists and contribute to the creation of an enabling, safer and more pluralistic media environment
  • to strengthen the skills and knowledge of the actors who are responsible for applying such standards as part of their daily work

Who benefits from the action?

  • independent authorities in the field of media regulation (Regulatory Authority for Electronic Media) and access to information (Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Protection of Personal Data) and their staff
  • associations of journalists and media actors
  • professionals such as judges, prosecutors, police officers, lawyers, broadcasters, journalists, other media actors, university students
  • the society of Serbia

How does the action work?

  • through the provision of legal advice to improve the alignment of legal and regulatory frameworks to the relevant European standards
  • by promotion and production of research and policy support
  • through awareness-raising events among duty bearers and rights holders of the relevant European standards
  • through capacity-building activities for the various professional categories, anchored in the European standards and the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR)
  • by facilitating regional dialogue and exchange of good practices, in synergy with the regional action

What do we expect to achieve?

  • the employees of the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Protection of Personal Data will reflect in their work an improved knowledge of the European Convention on Human Rights and the ECtHR case-law, related to access to information and protection of private and family life (personal data)
  • professional capacities of the Regulatory Authority for Electronic Media employees will be further strengthened, on the revised EU Audio-visual Media Services Directive and its enhanced standards on the protection of minors, audio-visual commercial communication, media literacy, harmful content, hate speech, and the ECtHR jurisprudence
  • journalists will strengthen their knowledge on domestic legal mechanisms and the ECtHR procedures, in terms of addressing threats and attacks; this will be supported with development of recommendations on how to address the strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP)
  • the society at large in Serbia will benefit from an improved environment for the exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and access to information

What is the budget of the action?

The total budget of the action is 720 000 EUR.

The budget allocated to the overall Horizontal Facility programme amounts to ca. 41 million EUR (85% funded by the European Union, 15% by the Council of Europe).

How to get more information?

About Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Türkiye

The “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Türkiye” is a joint initiative of the European Union and the Council of Europe that enables the Western Balkans Beneficiaries and Türkiye to meet their reform agendas in the fields of human rights, rule of law and democracy and to comply with the European standards, which is also a priority for the EU enlargement process.