Belgium kicks off its semester at the helm of the EU Council

January 15, 2024, 11:04 am

For once, it’s us welcoming Belgium, and not the other way around. Following in Spain’s footsteps, from January 1 to June 30 2024, the last rotating Council Presidency of the current legislative term will be held by the country that hosts the European Institutions. Given the complex Belgian federal structure and the fact that the Belgian regions are responsible for the international aspects of their domestic competences, including EU policy, the EYCS Council formation (Education, Youth, Culture and Sport) will be chaired by Flanders. Flemish experts will follow the relevant preparatory work of the Culture Council, which will be chaired by Minister-President Jan Jambon. Here is their integral programme on the priorities for the six months to come.

Belgium, which is in itself the example of a country which has recently focused its attention on the improvement of working conditions of artists and cultural workers, will continue the work initiated by Spain in this domain, following up on the November ministerial policy debate which we wrapped up for you in our last Brussels Decoder for you, available here for CAE members. Council conclusions (i.e. the formal policy documents adopted by consensus by Ministers), however, will elaborate on the digital transformation of the cultural and creative sectors, an issue particularly pressing at a time when the EU has been the first normative world power to regulate AI, which represents opportunities as much as threats for creators. 

With the overall discussion on the future of Europe (worryingly) developing around identitarian patterns, especially when right-wing populist and nationalistic parties take the lead, unfortunately culture will also be dragged into the play. On May 13, in Antwerp, an informal working dinner is planned to deal with the topic of “culture and identity” in Europe.

Several major conferences will be organised during the Presidency to support this work. The first one, between February 8 and 9 in Ghent, focused on data-driven development of Europe’s cultural and creative sectors, will explore existing and potential future policies to foster (digital) cultural participation, ethical considerations regarding the use of audience data, digital and collective data processing infrastructure, and encouraging knowledge sharing regarding data usage in the CCS. Another one, between April 15 and 17, in Antwerp, will question how culture and heritage contribute to the formation and expression of identity. On February 27, as part of the programme dedicated to media and digital issues, a conference will be held in Brussels on influencers and online content creators, which will contribute to the planned Council conclusion on the topic. 

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