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24th Sep 2023

EU keen to enshrine culture in economic planning

  • Barcelona park: The cultural sector includes areas as diverse as cinema, music, publishing, the media, fashion, interior and product design, cultural tourism, performing arts and heritage (Photo: Turisme de Barcelona / J. Trullas)

Europe should invest more in its creative industries as a source of future growth the European Commission has said, while EU ministers have called for culture to be put at the "heart" of the bloc's new economic plan, the Europe 2020 strategy.

The EU executive is in late April set to adopt its "Green Paper on Cultural and Creative Industries," aimed at unlocking the economic potential of cultural and creative industries in Europe - a sector that generates 5 million jobs and represents 2.6 percent of GDP in the 27-nation bloc.

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The sector includes areas as diverse as cinema, music, publishing, the media, fashion, interior and product design, cultural tourism, performing arts and heritage.

Speaking at the European Forum on Cultural Industries in Barcelona, the director general of the European Commission's education and culture department, Odile Quintin, outlined the general lines of the upcoming commission document.

According to a study on the economy of European culture, commissioned by the EU executive: "The cultural and creative sector is a growing sector, developing at a higher pace than the rest of the economy ...and the sector's growth in terms of jobs out-performs the rest of the economy."

The green paper will cover areas such as the financing of cultural and creative industries in Europe, the raising of professional standards in the sector, the protection of intellectual property and the management of copyright. It is also set to call for common cultural policies and the creation of a European judicial framework for the sector.

Ms Quintin said the paper could also be taken into consideration when planning the EU's 2014 to 2020 budget, with negotiations set to start later this year. "If creative and cultural industries are widely considered as a very strong input to growth, then we should invest more money," she told EUobserver.

Although the word "culture" is not mentioned in the draft Europe 2020 strategy, the European Commissioner for Education and Culture - Androulla Vassiliou - said that the cultural and creative sector will have "a special place" in initiatives such as "innovation, competitiveness, the digital agenda and social inclusion," which already feature in the 2020 blueprint.

"The success of Europe 2020 will depend to a large extend on the contribution of the culturally related sectors of the economy. I hope our green paper will spark a lively and Europe-wide debate that will allow us to have a better understanding and take the next steps in the right direction," she said at the Barcelona event.

EU culture ministers, also meeting in Barcelona last week, unanimously approved "to put culture at the heart of the 2020 strategy" due to the sector's social and economic potential. The ministers also stated a need for "all member states to work in a harmonised and sustainable way to adapt to the new business models arising from the change from analogue to digital" in the area.

'Cultural diversity, not mono-culture'

German conservative MEP Doris Pack, also speaking at the forum, warned that while Europe should insist on the economic value of cultural activities, it should not neglect cultural diversity, however. "We don't want a mono-culture," she said.

Along the same lines, Andy Pratt - the head of the Centre for Culture, Media and Creative Industries Research (CMCI) in London - cautioned that there is a danger of homogenising European culture.

"We have to be careful if we mainstream culture in European policies," he said. "Culture would be everywhere, but nowhere."

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