Michel and his team anticipate that a deal could be reached at the February summit: budget negotiations, always brutal, normally require several summits and months of trade-offs. The Council president is manoeuvring between member states that want to keep their contribution to the EU’s coffers broadly at current levels despite Brexit and those who think the bloc needs to invest much more in its collective endeavours. Read the article
Where is culture in the current MFF negotiations?
The road that took us to the current state of things is a long one: the starting point being European Commission’s proposal for the next long-term EU budget, published in May 2018. EC proposed 1.11% of EU-27 gross national income (GNI) as national contribution rate.
The European Commission called to bring the overall allocations for the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) to 1134.6 bn, determining a slight increase from the 1082.3 bn of the current (2014-2020) EU budget.
The Commission’s proposal kept Creative Europe as a self-standing program despite the prior suggested merger with other programmes in the field of citizenship and rights; it also tabled an increase of the Creative Europe budget from 1.4 billion euros (2014-2020) to 1.6 billion euros (2021-2027).
The Cultural and Creative Sectors (CCS) welcomed the Commission’s plan to keep Creative Europe as a stand-alone program (moved to heading 2 “Cohesion and Values” in 2021-2027 from heading 3 “Security and Citizenship” of 2014-2020) and increase its financial support of 17%. However, the sector worries that this figure is far from sufficient in order to cover the chronic underinvestment in the programme. CCS called for a double increase of the budget for the culture strand of Creative Europe in order to allow the sector to reach its true potential.
Despite its high implementation rates, Creative Europe is hindered by low and decreasing application success rates, due to its significant popularity and insufficient finances. As a result, a great number of high-quality projects are left without deserved support.
European Parliament reacts to the Commission’s Proposal
Parliament adopted its official position on the overall MFF in November 2018: considering the Commission’s proposal insufficient and unambitious, it estimated that the MFF ceiling should increase from the current 1,0% to 1.3% of EU-27 GNI. Namely, €1 324 089 million that is 16,7% more than proposed by the Commission.
Recognising the need for a further increase in the Creative Europe “slice” of the budget, the EP Committee on Culture and Education in its 26 October 2018 draft report proposed to double the current budget for culture to €2.806 bn.
In the plenary session of 28 March 2019 Parliament adopted a resolution on the Creative Europe programme calling to double its budget in order to support artists’ mobility, better use of digital technologies, youth participation and media literacy.
In 2019, during the November in-camera session of the Cultural committee meeting, MEPs exchanged views on the current state of Creative Europe 2021-2027 programme. The discussion did not last long, considering that no clear budgetary figures were presented to the Parliament. These figures depend on the final agreement by the Council and EU leaders on the overall spending for the next seven years.
CAE joined the European Composer & Songwriter alliance (ECSA)’s initiative calling EU leaders to advocate for a stronger budget for the next seven years’ Creative Europe programme. Different organisations from across the cultural and creative sectors co-signed this letter.
Member States come into play
In the beginning of December 2019, 19 months after the Commission proposal and one year after the adoption of the EP’s position, the Finnish presidency of the Council circulated a “negotiating box” on the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and own resources. This negotiating box put forward for the first time tentative figures for Council’s discussion, notably a proposed overall level of €1,087 billion (1.07% of the EU’s GNI) for the next MFF.
Such general decrease of the overall budget, if equally distributed, might have a horizontal effect on all the headings, including Heading 2 “Cohesion and Values” that, according to the calculations, would be subjected to a cut of 17.918 million.
With this kind of cuts, Creative Europe, which already constitutes a mere 0.14% of the overall budget (out of which only one third (31%) is earmarked for culture) would suffer from great damage, generating frustration towards the programme.
Despite the Finnish presidency’s efforts to simplify and clarify the discussion through the negotiating box, the December 2019 European Council meeting did not yield results. Member States remained deeply divided on most aspects of the MFF along more or less formal coalitions.
Even though no blueprint of the budget to be discussed at the upcoming 20 February MFF Council meeting has been released yet, the Finnish figures will most probably provide a framework for the future negotiations.
Whatever decision is made on February 20, we as representatives of the cultural sector must act now to ensure that the growing political and institutional recognition of the contribution of culture to the European project is translated into significant and sustainable support in the post-2020 MFF.