Parliament adopted two reports on cultural industries, the first calls for a new task force on culture and the creative economy, a programme to support the culture industries the second calls more should be done to ensure that EU programmes reflect Europe's common cultural heritage.
Access to the Internet
Parliament adopted an amendment by a narrow majority which calls on the Commission and the Member States to recognise that the Internet is a vast platform for cultural expression, access to knowledge, and democratic participation in European creativity, bringing generations together through the information society. MEPs call on the Commission and the Member States, to avoid adopting measures conflicting with civil liberties and human rights and with the principles of proportionality, effectiveness and dissuasiveness, such as the interruption of Internet access.
A new task force on culture and the creative economy, a programme to support the culture industries, less VAT and a sharper focus on training and mobility are proposed in an own-initiative report adopted by the European Parliament on the cultural industries' potential to contribute to the Lisbon growth and jobs strategy.
Cultural industries account for 2.6 % of the EU GDP (2003) and over five million Europeans work in the sector (2004). The cultural sector is growing faster than others, and thus has an important role in attaining the Lisbon strategy growth and jobs targets, says the report.
In the report MEPs welcome the readiness of the Commission and Council to acknowledge the central role of culture and creativity in promoting European citizenship and bringing the arts closer to the European public, as well as achieving the Lisbon strategy aims.
More support needed
MEPs make concrete proposals to the Commission and Member States, including setting up a task force on culture and the creative economy to look more closely into the relationship between culture, creativity and innovation in the EU policies.
They stress that adequate funding for the creative industries and communities is essential, and recommend mixed methods of funding and promoting a regulatory and fiscal framework that favours the cultural industries, specifically tax credits and reduced rates of VAT for all cultural products, including on-line works.
MEPs also ask the Commission to consider setting up a MEDIA- like programme that could support digital libraries, music, theatre and publishing, as well as the transnational distribution of works.
Intellectual property: consumers should not be criminalised
MEPs urge the Commission to rethink the issue of intellectual property in order to assure solutions that are equitable for both big and small actors and strike a balance between the respect of intellectual property and the access to cultural events and content. The House underlines that on the battle against digital piracy, the solution should not be to criminalise consumers who do not intend to make profit out of their actions. Furthermore, MEPs suggest campaigns to educate consumers and raise awareness of their responsibilities.
Mobility and qualifications
The European Parliament also highlights the importance of cross-border mobility, especially for artists, and the need for better statistics to enable countries to learn from each other and formulate policies. MEPs stress the need to improve qualifications, apprenticeship and training systems, and provide students in the arts with training that will better prepare them better for professional life and encourage synergies between businesses and schools.
Finally, the House suggests that culture should be better integrated in the Union's external policies.
Figures on cultural industry
- The sector turned over more than 654 billions Euros in 2003.
- The sector contributed to 2.6% of EU GDP in 2003. In the UK, 3% and Ireland 1.7%
- The overall growth of the sector's value added was 19.7% in 1999-2003.
- In 2004, at least 5.8 million people worked in the sector, equivalent to 3.1% of total employed population in Europe.
Sharper focus needed on European cultural heritage
The cultural sector in Europe plays an important role in attaining the objectives of the renewed Lisbon strategy, but more should be done to ensure that EU programmes reflect Europe's common cultural heritage, says the European Parliament in a report.
If Europe is placed in the vanguard of all the continents it is because of its cultural heritage, says the report, drafted by Vasco GRAÇA MOURA (EPP-ED, PT). Europe's cultural richness adds genuine value and has an identity-giving role that is vital for Europe and the EU, the MEPs point out, welcoming the Commission communication on a European agenda for culture in a globalising world from 2007.
"European Heritage" label
Although EU programmes in the cultural sector will contribute to cohesion, real convergence, economic growth, sustainable development, innovation employment and competitiveness, MEPs believe that the existing programmes do not fully reflect the implications of the European's common cultural heritage. The House therefore calls on the Commission to propose specific programmes to preserve Europe's cultural heritage, as well as a "European Heritage" label, to emphasise the European dimension of cultural goods, monuments, memorial sites and places of remembrance.
Identify threatened sectors
MEPs also want the Commission to identify threatened sectors such as the publishing sector, where they say high-quality writing is threatened by best-sellers, and the music sector which they say is threatened by digitisation and piracy. Members therefore call on the Commission to do what is necessary to enforce and protect literary and artistic property rights, especially in the digital environment.
Finally, the House recommends that to promote European cultural values, the Commission and Member States should start organising a European Year to commemorate significant European personalities and suggests that 2010 should be made a European Year to celebrate the composer Chopin, and that 2011 should be made a European Year of Greek and Latin Classics.
- Cultural industries in Europe
- European agenda for culture in a globalising world
- Text, as adopted by the EP on 10 April, will be available here
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- Richard FREEDMAN, E-mail address : press-EN@europarl.europa.eu, Telephone number in Brussels : (32-2) 28 41448 (BXL)
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