Video-conference (informal meeting) among EU Ministers of culture on 8 April 

Video-conference organised on the initiative of theCroatian Presidency of the EU and chaired by Nina Obuljen.All 27 EU Member States participated.

European Commission Representatives who joined the meeting were: Věra Jourová (European Commission Vice President for Values and Transparency),  Mariya Gabriel ( European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth) and Thierry Breton(European Commissioner for the Internal Market). 

Ministers and representatives of the European Commision exchanged views on the immediate/ initial measures implemented to mitigate impacts of the crisis and measures that should be taken at the European level.

The Press Conference that followed the video-conference is accessible here, in case you are interested. Here you can read a short press release. 

The key points discussed were:

All EU Member States have undertaken necessary steps to help artists, cultural workers, cultural institutions and companies in the crisis.

Most Member States agreed that cultural and creative sectors are among the first (if not THE first) to be severely hit by the crisis and lockdown of public spaces.

Member States expressed their concerns as of how quickly some parts of the cultural sector will be able to recover once the immediate crisis is over.

The digital consumption of cultural content on various online platforms during the isolation was also addressed and praised.

Member States presented national measures, which are different and context-specific, but can be grouped as follows:

  • Majority of Member States have implemented social measures to protect the most vulnerable workers: freelancers, independent, small enterprises.
  • Operational measures:Extended deadlines and changed criteria of deadlines of national calls to adapt to the situation.
  • Financial measures: a number of countries made available funds for cultural and creative sectors 

The Media and the importance of the professional work of journalists to prevent fake news and disinformation was also addressed. 

Commissioner Mariya Gabriel presented activities already launched by European Commission, both horizontal and sectorial. 

3 horizontal measures that can and should be used for the cultural sector:

  • Coronavirus response investment initiative (37 billion Euro from Structural Funds to alleviate the effects of the pandemic) 
  • New instrument for temporary support to mitigate unemployment risk in emergencies (100 billion Euro)
  • Temporary framework for state aid (culture is specifically listed as one of the sectors that are most severely hit).

Sector-specific actions (under the Creative Europe framework programme of the EU):

  • Maximum flexibility for ongoing and planned actions (including extension of Deadline for application to some calls published under the programme)
  • Special measures to support cinema ( 5 million Euro as part of a supplementary fund)
  • Redirecting the work of the cross-border dimension of performing arts towards virtual mobility and digital culture. In May, a Fund of 2 million Euro for this purpose will be announced.
  • Commissioner Gabriel also proposed to launch 2 platforms: one for Member States to share good practices and another one for the sector itself (to exchange and find solutions to the challenges posed by the crisis)

People are turning to culture in these difficult times. Commissioner Gabriel addressed culture as ‘The Treasure of Europe’. 

In general, Ministries appreciated the measures already taken by the European Commission as well as the ‘quick response’ to address the current crisis. 

Next steps: 

EU Ministers in charge of Culture will continue to be in close contact and cooperation in the coming weeks, as to prepare a Ministerial meeting on this topic in May 2020. In this Ministerial meeting, EU Ministers in charge of Culture should make a solid assessment of the crisis, propose Joint action for the post-crisis period as well as options for recovery of the cultural and creative sectors.

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