The European Union is teaming up with a local television station to produce an “unprecedented” series of programs promoting the EU and its role in Lebanon and the region.
The series, entitled Europa, begins Feb. 15 and is being touted by EU Ambassador Patrick Renauld as a major step for Lebanon’s media and the EU’s profile here.
“Europe and the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership have never been the subject of such a long-running monthly program, whether in the member states of the European Union or the Mediterranean partner countries,” Renauld told a news conference Wednesday at the Monroe Hotel.
“I’m particularly happy that Lebanon is a pioneer in this field. This backs up my idea that the Lebanese are ready to take up the challenges, and certainly, the (EU-Mediterranean) Association Agreement is one of these challenges,” he added.
Renauld said he thanked NBN, which will air the series, for its initiative to put “airtime at the disposal of the information.”
“I use the word information because the program is not propaganda intended to sell you Europe, but a program aiming at giving one another mutual information. Our objective is to enter a debate while keeping a critical eye over the future relationship between Europe and Lebanon,” he said.
A tentative list of subjects for the episodes includes economy and trade, human rights, environment and civic spirit, the Lebanese presence in Europe, education and youth.
Officials familiar with the project say its importance lies in the fact that the EU recognizes the need to boost public awareness of what its current and future role is in Lebanon and the region.
The EU is a major provider of aid and assistance to Lebanon, at about $30 million a year.
But unlike, for example, the United States or Gulf countries, the EU’s assistance comes in nonvisible channels, as one EU official put it.
“Other countries provide money for building things, but ours (is) in the form of technical and policy assistance, so you don’t ‘see’ it,” the official said.
Renauld said the new relationship between the EU and countries like Lebanon, which recently approved the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership Agreement, “is worthy, according to us, of in-depth information and extensive debates.”
“Life in Europe, life in Lebanon, the life of the other partners, our cultures, our youth, our enterprises, the conflicts in the region are subjects that will be addressed during the program,” Renauld said.
The programs will involve live debates between officials from Lebanon and the EU and other experts, with local journalists either moderating or taking part in the discussions.
Each segment is split into three parts, focusing on Europe itself, the EU’s activities in the region, via the partnership agreements, and finally, the EU’s specific role in Lebanon.
They will be broadcast at 8.30pm on every third Saturday of the month, running through the end of the year.
The 90-minute programs, which are being produced by the firm Ne a Beyrouth (Born in Beirut) and broadcast simultaneously on both terrestrial and satellite, will be in Arabic with simultaneous translation.
Episode details can be found on the website www.europasurnbn.com beginning Feb. 7.