On 26 November, the EU Ministers of Culture met in Brussels to discuss the next EU Culture Programme ‘Creative Europe’. The discussions focused on detailing the rules for the Financial Guarantee Facility proposed by the Commission. On the side of the European Parliament, an important step forward was taken when the report on ‘Creative Europe’ drafted by MEP Silvia Costa (S&D, Italy) was voted on the 18th of December.
The Member States already reached a first agreement on ‘Creative Europe’, known as a “Partial General Approach”, in May this year where they agreed on amendments to the content of the EC proposal but postponed the discussions on the Financial Guarantee. After the second agreement (2nd partial general approach), the first agreement remains almost untouched apart from the fact that the Ministers approved the Financial Guarantee Facility, introducing some further details to the instrument.
The second agreement of the Ministers introduces a geographical- and sector-representation balance in the selection of beneficiaries for the Guarantee Facility. Concerning the selection of financial intermediaries, the capability to build a diversified loan portfolio and to propose a marketing- and promotion plan to organisations has been specified. The new agreement also states that although the EU candidate countries, potential candidates and neighbouring countries would be able to participate in the ‘Creative Europe’ Programme, they would not be able to benefit from the Guarantee Facility.
Most Member States are satisfied with the new amended text. As a consequence, the discussion around ‘Creative Europe’ at the Council meeting was very short.
However, some countries still have pending reservations dating back to the first negotiations under the Danish EU Presidency in Spring 2012. Austria and Germany have reservations about the inclusion of the term “in particular” in the priority for funding of not-for-profit projects/organisations as they would like cultural strand to involved only non-for-profit projects and organization. However the Commission and UK object to this development, as they fear that this explicit mentioning could be an obstacle to the funding of translations, festivals, theatres and other activities with a more commercial nature.” The biggest reservation remains that of the United Kingdom about the financial instrument. The British Ministry of Finance fears that the Financial Guarantee Facility, being a sector-specific facility, would be against EU principles of fair and equal market competitiveness. The UK is currently leading its own investigations on this matter. If they conclude that it would be against EU principles, one solution envisaged by the Council would be to have the facility operating within the framework of the broader Horizon 2020/COSME debt instrument instead of the sector-specific ‘Creative Europe’ Programme.
On the side of the European Parliament, an important step was taken when the report on ‘Creative Europe’ drafted by MEP Silvia Costa (S&D, Italy) was voted on the 18th of December. On this occasion, the members of the Culture committee approved the framework programme with several amendments.
Echoing Culture Action Europe’s statement on Costa’s report and its call to the members of the Culture committee sent the day before the vote, Mrs Doris Pack (Chair of the Culture Committee, EPP/Germany) opened the session by asserting that thanks to the significant convergence between the EP report and the Council position, a first-reading agreement should be possible and is preferable. As a consequence, a mandate was given to Mrs Pack as well as to the rapporteurs and shadow rapporteurs to start the so-called trilogue negotiations with the Council and the EC.
The report voted also includes several amendments CAE have suggested in the past months. However, there are still several elements that CAE disagrees with. CAE will continue to work on these elements in the new phase of inter-institutional trilogue negotiations that will now follow.
Trilogue = Informal negotiation meetings attended by representatives of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission.