The contents of this text were presented and discussed by our CEO Pauline Durand-Vialle at the FIPADOC Industry event “The French Documentary Industry – How to Overcome the Crisis?” on January 19, 2021.
Europe’s cultural independence at stake
Overall, our sector’s access to funding from the EU Recovery Plan will mainly depend on national and regional political will in the next few months.
While the significant increase of Creative Europe funding in the EU budget is very good news, the new MEDIA subprogramme is still under construction and there is a significant risk of delays in the publication of calls for projects.
In addition, the approach of the AV sector outlined in Commissioner Breton’s action plan to “support the revival and transformation of the EU’s media and audiovisual sectors” features a strong focus on the dual digital and ecological transition as well as on equity investment, data spaces, virtual and augmented reality – and new semantics to talk about European audiovisual creative content referring almost exclusively to “entertainment”.
MEDIA 2021-2027 retains nonetheless objectives and actions relating more specifically to cultural diversity – development, co-production, promotion of European works and balance between countries with different production capacities.
We will continue to advocate to reinforce the cultural diversity focus of European funding dedicated to our sector, based on co-productions and the promotion of European works as a vector of cohesion for the Union. It has never been more essential as the C-19 crisis has severaly hit local audiovisual ecosystems and infrastructures while the presence of global players on European markets has exploded in recent months.
Europe and culture
In Europe, cultural policies fall under the competence of the Member States which are free in setting their priorities and in their budgetary choices – while the EU only has support powers.
The EU cultural policy was born in 1977 with the Cultural Action Plan of the European Commission. In 1992, with the Maastricht Treaty, Europeans recognized that the EU contributed to the development of national cultures, while respecting their national diversity. The idea of ”cultural diversity” is established.
To allow for a national cultural policy that protects against international competition, cultural goods are traditionally excluded from international trade negotiations, for example.
EU intervention in this field overall aims at encouraging European cooperation, defending cultural diversity and therefore contribute to the development of national cultures by being involved in the promotion of creation, in the economic development of the cultural sector, in citizens’ access to culture, or even in the influence of European culture in the world.
How the EU response to the C-19 crisis can impact cultural sectors
The EU institutions’ response to the ongoing crisis impact first took the shape of general instruments created to support Member States in the implementation of broad emergency measures which benefitted the cultural and creative sectors, such as the special regime for exemptions from the general principle of prohibition of state aid, the temporary Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency (SURE) and the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative (CRII).
In a second stage, the EU developed its Recovery Plan for Europe based on the analysis of the repair and investment needs of 14 industrial ecosystems identified by the Commission as representing around 90% of the business value added in the EU. The cultural and creative sectors was identified as one of these ecosystems.
The EU recovery plan is therefore accessible to cultural and creative sectors in various ways.
1. NEXT GENERATION EU, a EUR 750 billion temporary instrument designed to boost the EU economic recovery
A mix of grants and loans, this instrument defines each Member State’s financial envelope (by population, GDP, etc) and will be distributed according to a certain number of criteria. More details available here: https://ec.europa.eu/info/strategy/recovery-plan-europe_en#nextgenerationeu
With the vocal support of the cultural and audiovisual stakeholders community in Brussels, the EU Parliament mobilized in support of cultural sectors from the very beginning of the crisis. While its call to Member States and the EU Commission to earmark 2% of the recovery funds for culture was not successful, it did shed light on the needs of the sector and underlined the fact each Member State has the ability to include support to the CCS in its national plan.
A word of caution to this tale: there might be a temptation for each country to focus on requesting EU support to strengthen infrastructures building the attractiveness of the local industry for international productions. More can – and must – be done to foster the cultural and creative independence of Europe in each national plans, in order for EU support to actually filter down to local industry ecosystem and infrastructures.
2. Regions can also find EU support for the cultural sectors (aid to SMEs and employment) via EU cohesion policy funds:
– In the recovery plan: EUR 47.5 billion REACT EU (Recovery Assistance for Cohesion and the Territories of Europe) to be distributed among Member States
– In the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), which which aims at strengthening economic and social cohesion in the Union by correcting the imbalances between its regions.
3. European budget and support programs
More details about the EU long-term budget (Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF)) available here: https://ec.europa.eu/info/strategy/eu-budget/long-term-eu-budget/eu-budget-2021-2027_en
In addition to the funds mentioned above, other instruments may also be of interest (e.g. Invest EU, financial guarantee fund): the EU Commission plans to set up a dedicated portal to facilitate access to these funding opportunities for cultural and creative sector stakeholders.
More details available here: https://keanet.eu/opinions/nextgenerationeu-recovery-plan-if-you-work-in-culture/
The steadfast commitment of MEPs across the political spectrum to obtain a significant increase of funding in the negotiation with the Member States and the Commission allows for Creative Europe 2021-2027, the framework programme for support to the cultural sectors, to benefit from a EUR 2.52 billion envelope – almost doubling its previous 2014-2020 edition budget. 58% of this budget will be dedicated to the MEDIA subprogramme i.e. 1.46 billion EUR over 7 years. https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_20_2405
The question now is when will the new Creative Europe and its MEDIA subprogramme effectively kick off. A political agreement was struck between EU institutions involved on its legal basis – the Regulation establishing the Creative Europe programme (2021 to 2027) –mid-December 2020, however the adoption process is still ongoing as the text needs to be approved by Parliament, reportedly during its March plenary session, as well as by Council.
You can contact your local Creative Europe MEDIA Desk for updates on call for applications opening dates. Find your local Desk contact here: https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/creative-europe/contact_en