By Rosen Dimov
Bulgarian human rights activists and journalists expressed admiration for the European Media Pluralism Initiative, launched by European Alternatives and a coalition of civil society organisations across Europe, as one of the transnational tools to foster genuine competition in the audiovisual services within the Union and a means of improving European citizens’ access to information. European Alternative’s co-director Lorenzo Marsili, the national coordinator of the “People, power, participation” project, Rosen Dimov and Assen Velichkov, the executive director of Bulgaria’s Centre for Media Development, welcomed the appreciation and inquiries of the audience seated in the Red House Centre for Culture and Debate in Sofia on 21 September 2012.
Highlighting the major features of the legislative proposal put forward through the European Citizen’s Initiative, a new tool under the Lisbon Treaty of the European Union, the organisers emphasized the open, deliberative and participatory nature of the media pluralism campaign. After receiving the European Commission’s response on the admissibility of the suggested legal instrument, European Alternatives as well as all other organisations and individuals interested to join may further develop and fine-tune the proposal. The real legislative process will start after fulfilling the legitimacy requirements about the European Citizens’ Initiative (the number of citizens’ signatures gathered totally and on a EU member country basis). Despite the reinforced representation of citizens’ interests in the triangular law-making formula (the European Commission-European Parliament-EU Council) the final word will be given by the European institutions rather than the citizens.
To ensure that the final outcome of these Europe-wide consultations with the public corresponds to the authentic and legitimate wishes of the European citizens, European Alternatives aims to mobilise all social actors: therefore, no deviation from original direction taken will be allowed. Secured through the scrutiny of the citizens and their organisations around Europe, the legislative instrument to come (possibly a new Directive) will continue to tackle with the cornerstones of the European Media Pluralism Initiative’s proposal.
To that respect, the organisers made it clear that no party would be allowed to benefit the Initiative. Instead, a cross-party transnational alliance in the European Parliament is targeted: the European Parliament being the voice of European citizens would pressure the other European institutions in the legislative process to strictly follow the claims of the European people. Additionally, the plurality of opinions to be voiced by the experts as well as the citizens would make it possible to determine the content and the procedural matters of the Directive to be enforced as an outcome of the Initiative. Last but not least, it is clear that media regulation at the Community level constituted a landmark movement in the European integration: laying it on the foundations of the internal market, free circulation of services and the fundamental right to information, the effect of the Initiative would become a coherent step in deepening the European Union.