Sixteen news agencies are to operate a joint, EU-funded "European Newsroom" that, from January 2022, will put out information on the bloc and aspiring member states, officials said on Monday.
The combined initiative is led by Germany's DPA and includes AFP, Spain's EFE and Europapress agencies and the main agencies from other EU countries Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Italy, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia.
News agencies from neighbouring non-EU countries Albania, Bosnia, North Macedonia and Serbia are also participating, according to a list from the European Commission.
The news hub will be located in Brussels and will be financed by the commission to the tune of 1.76 million euros ($2 million) for 2022 and 2023.
"With this new step, we are reinforcing Europe's information space, and increasing citizens' access to quality information," the EU's internal market commissioner Thierry Breton told a European News Media Forum on Monday.
The news agencies will be allied in running the newsroom as an activity alongside their regular, separate businesses.
"Most of these agencies will be together in one location where they will be able to share information on all European issues, jointly request interviews and publish part of this production on a dedicated website," AFP said.
It added that the participating journalists would have access to specialised training, especially on digital skills and fact-checking.
The agency alliance won a tender put out by the commission, which is also working on a proposed Media Freedom Act for next year that Breton said aims to "ensure the integrity and independence of the EU media market".
He cited challenges some European outlets face in terms of "government interference, politicisation of public media or a heavy concentration of media capital in a handful of owners" that posed threats to editorial independence.
The commissioner noted that traditional media were suffering continued declines in advertising revenues, down 10 percent for TV and up to 80 percent for newspapers in 2020, while online rivals scooped up bigger profits.
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