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Addressing Working Conditions: A Response to the European Parliament’s Call

In November 2023, the European Parliament took a significant step by passing a resolution focusing on the working conditions of artists and cultural workers. Now, in response to this call, the Commission has unveiled 13 initiatives aimed at initiating work on an EU framework addressing the social and professional status of artists, as well as cultural and creative sector workers.

Among the proposed initiatives is the organization of a High-level Round Table, bringing together key cultural stakeholders. The Commission aims to support the cultural sector in establishing a self-managed, autonomous agreement to enhance working conditions, with cultural associations representing both employers’ and workers’ interests.

In terms of funding, the Commission is considering the concept of social conditionality for programs such as Creative Europe and Horizon Europe. This principle would require grant recipients to adhere to fair labor practices and meet social standards within their projects and administrative processes. While acknowledging that fair remuneration of artists is already implied in Creative Europe’s legal framework, the Commission intends to explore strengthening social conditionality in future Union programs, aligning with existing financial regulations.

Many of the Commission’s initiatives involve in-depth analytical work rather than immediate action. For instance, it plans to task its labor-related bodies with assessing the enforcement of occupational health and safety laws and investigating undeclared work within the cultural sectors. Additionally, the Commission will define cultural sector professionals, study contractual practices affecting copyright transfer, and explore potential compensation models for the ‘Cultural Pass.’

It’s worth noting that CAE and Panteia have conducted a survey on the working conditions of artists and cultural professionals, with the findings set to be presented to the Open Method Coordination group of the European Commission on May 15.

The Commission’s analytical efforts will play a crucial role in shaping the review of the New European Agenda for Culture, laying the groundwork for an updated cultural policy framework at the EU level. CAE has prioritized contributing to the development of the EU strategic framework for culture in 2025. Recognizing the value of networks in empowering and informing artists and professionals about their rights, the Commission emphasizes the importance of feedback from these networks to policymakers.

Established as a network of networks thirty years ago, Culture Action Europe is committed to coordinating efforts with relevant European cultural networks to participate in proposed actions and maintain an active dialogue on the EU framework regarding the social and professional status of artists and cultural and creative sector workers. The key objective will be to drive actionable improvements in the sector under the new College of Commissioners following the EU elections.