The Muzzled Watchdog - The impact of EU conditionality on media freedom in Serbia
Stiphout, T.M. van
MetadataShow full item record
On 18 July 2016, Serbia opened Chapter 23 on judiciary and fundamental rights of the acquis communautaire in the European Union (EU) accession process. Taking into account the important watchdog role of media in democratic society, media freedom is an important condition for EU membership. Despite Serbia’s process of EU integration, various reports showed a recent stagnation or even decline of media freedom in the country (Freedom House, 2016: MSI, 2016). This research aims at explaining the impact of the EU on media freedom and the existing media freedom deficit in Serbia regardless of the EU accession process. This qualitative case analysis shows that the impact of EU conditionality is limited to the formal legal rule adoption. Serbia formally aligned its media legislation with EU rules and standards, however, among others the lack of implementation and enforcement hampers a sufficient policy outcome of these newly adopted media laws. Findings of the careful analysis of empirical data consisting of policy documents, monitoring reports, and interviews with policy officials, show that the lack of will of Serbia’s political elite, the poor economic state of the media market and the lack of credibility/clarity of EU rules and legislation are the main reasons for the lack of impact of EU conditionality in this policy field; the impact in the field of media freedom in Serbia is seriously challenged by both EU and domestic factors.