EP is pushing for sizable EU funding to prop up hard-hit European culture

MEPs insist that sector should receive at least 2% of the Recovery and Resilience Facility

Photo: EP Sabine Verheyen.

In a resolution, adopted overwhelmingly on Thursday, MEPs called for dedicated EU funding to help rebuild the European cultural sector severely hit by the coronacrisis and the lockdowns posed throughout Europe for curbing the spread of the virus.

Due to the pandemic, all performances across Europe have been cancelled, festivals, conferences and exhibitions postponed, cinemas, theatres and museums closed, television and film productions put on hold. For many artists it was impossible to make a living.

MEPs were sharply critical that “Next Generation EU” recovery funds are not being earmarked to directly support European culture. They insisted that the Commission and the national governments should transfer at least 2% of the Recovery and Resilience Facility for the cultural and creative sectors and industries, which means more than €12bn.

Adopting the EU long-term budget in July, the Council cut the amounts for Creative Europe back to €1.64bn, while the EP proposal was for more generous envelope.

In their resolution, MEPs insist that European culture is not only a strategic sector that carries the European values and way of life, but also accounts for 4 % of the European GDP and 3.7 % of total EU employment.

They stress that the cultural sector and creators have likely lost as much as 80 % of their turnover during the Covid-19 crisis and continue to be affected by health and safety measures that have “disastrous financial consequences”.

Lawmakers strongly reaffirm their stance by constantly calling for the overall budget of the “oversubscribed and underfunded” Creative Europe programme to be increased to €2.8bn in the next long-term budget, thus doubling the funds allocated in the previous 7-year period.

Concerning the still existing travel constraints that continue to hinder European culture by limiting touring and international mobility, MEPs call on EU countries to limit “unwarranted Schengen restrictions”. They claim that the Commission should develop guidelines for Member States for safe cross-border touring and live cultural events.

The other worrying issue for the deputies is the lack of access to financial resources and social safety for the many freelancers and micro-organisations that largely make up the cultural and creative sector. In their resolution, they call on EU countries to seek out ways to also support non-formal entities in the sector and to provide adequate guarantees so that the EU’s SURE instrument, intended to support short-time working measures, could be rapidly operational and available for all.

The members of the EP point to the currently weakened media ecosystem and ask the Commission to present medium- and long-term strategies with specific initiatives to support media, as well as to consider establishing a news media fund. In this respect, they underscored that a free, independent and sufficiently funded media is an ‘antidote to disinformation’.

The cultural sector is the very heart and soul of Europe Sabine Verheyen, German EPP MEP, Chair of Parliament's Culture Committee, underlined. Bringing people together, inspiring, soothing and sharing: these are the powers of arts and culture, which have been so important during the Covid-19 lockdown and we must do everything we can to preserve Europe's culture, she stressed.

This resolution on the cultural recovery is our way of expressing solidarity with performers, artists, creators, authors, publishers, their companies and all other cultural creators and workers, who have all been severely struck by the global Covid-19 pandemic, Victor Negrescu, Romanian S&D MEP and Vice-Chair of the same committee stated.

He explained that are needed strong financial plans that will provide a safety net for people working in these sectors, as well as a sense of predictability for the future. We ask as well for a European framework for working conditions in the cultural and creative sectors at an EU level, he added.

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