Culture Ministers across the EU are benchmarking national initiatives in support of Ukraine’s cultural and creative sectors, while the Commission is proposing a dedicated initiative in the framework of Creative Europe. The Culture Council meeting of 4 April in Luxembourg, under French Presidency, featured a prominent round of exchanges and a debate among the EU Member States on the ongoing Russian military aggression against Ukraine and its impact on the country’s artists and cultural heritage. It followed up on the informal Council meeting in Angers in early March, when Ministers adopted a Declaration on the situation in Ukraine.
After inviting and hearing from the Ukrainian Minister for Culture, Oleksandr Tkachenko, the Council exchanged views on the various measures already taken both at Member State and EU level to support the Ukrainian cultural sector. Ministers showcased their respective countries’ efforts, on the national, regional and local level, in supporting Ukrainian artists and cultural workers both fleeing to the EU and remaining in Ukraine, such as residencies, grants and scholarships, public-private funding schemes, humanitarian aid, cooperation and exchange of expertise with Ukrainian counterparts and pledges to invest in the protection and reconstruction of Ukrainian cultural heritage and infrastructure in general. Some countries also called for support for Russian artists and cultural workers under threat.
Ministers also explored the possibility of further joint actions to ensure the coherence, complementarity and coordination of efforts in support of the cultural and creative sectors. They endorsed the use of already existing instruments of the EU’s multiannual budget, such as the Creative Europe, Horizon Europe and Erasmus+ programmes to support Ukrainian artists and cultural workers. In particular, the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education, Youth and Sport Mariya Gabriel anticipated that in 2023 a line of financing devoted to Ukraine will be opened in the Creative Europe programme, including enhanced mobility for cultural actors and an action on the exchange of expertise for the restoration of cultural heritage.
Member States also agreed on the importance of the protection of Ukrainian heritage by calling for coordinated actions on the prevention of illicit trafficking of cultural goods, their coordinated temporary move to safer grounds and the creation of relevant digital inventories.
On the eve of the Council meeting, in the framework of the #CulturalDealEU campaign, Culture Action Europe, the European Cultural Foundation and Europa Nostra called on the EU Institutions and the Member States to demonstrate a Culture of Solidarity with cultural actors in Ukraine, including through public-philanthropic ventures. Some initiatives of this sort are already happening in certain Member States, but the time is ripe for the EU to equip itself with a more structural scheme to be activated in a situation of emergency.
On other business, as planned, mobility has been central to the Council meeting, with Ministers approving conclusions on reinforcing intercultural exchanges through the mobility of artists and cultural and creative professionals and multilingualism in the digital area. This document calls on member states to promote cooperation between cultural authorities and those responsible for administrative issues related to mobility as well as for the development of an ambitious digital policy for the development of language technologies, translation and lifelong language learning and teaching.
The Council also gave green light to the conclusions on a European strategy for the cultural and creative industries ecosystem. The strategy is structured around five pillars: improving access to finance for European businesses in the cultural and creative industries ecosystem; stimulating skills development and enhancement, as well as education and training; preserving and reaffirming Europe’s cultural richness and diversity in the digital age; strengthening exports by businesses in the cultural and creative industries ecosystem, and promoting responsible policies in businesses in the cultural and creative industries ecosystem.