As winter celebrations and inauguration ceremonies (including woolen mittens and powerful poems) are left behind, EU Member States are back to work to draft their National Recovery and Resilience Plans (NRRP). In order to benefit from the 750-billion funding of the European Recovery Plan agreed at the EU level, the Member States have to send their national implementation strategies to Brussels for validation by the end of April 2021. The European Recovery Plan “Next Generation EU” is a package of measures aimed to support Member States and those sectors and regions most affected in the way out of the crisis caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, while laying the foundations for a modern and more sustainable Europe.
The National Recovery and Resilience Plans should reach to and support the long-term sustainability and resilience of the cultural and creative sectors in Europe, substantially hit by the pandemic. The European Parliament in its Resolution on the Cultural Recovery of Europe, overwhelmingly backed at the plenary last September, urged the EU Member States to dedicate a specific fraction of “Next Generation EU” to the cultural ecosystem. National Governments were reminded about it in an open letter initiated by MEP Alexis Georgoulis (GUE/NGL) on behalf of the Cultural Creators Friendship Group of the European Parliament (CCFG), and co-signed by 104 Members of the European Parliament from all major political groups. Beyond the plea to earmark 2% of the NRRPs for the cultural sector, the letter also calls on the Member States to improve the social protection systems and the working conditions for the cultural workers and to include CCS in all financial supporting tools tackling the fallouts of the pandemic.
The cultural ecosystem is also vocal urging national governments to make culture central in their recovery strategies. Coordinated by Culture Action Europe and co-signed by 110 pan-European cultural networks and organisations, open letters calling to earmark at least 2% of their NRRP plans for culture were sent to the 27 Heads of Governments, Ministers of Culture, European Affairs and Finances last October. A call to encourage Member States to make culture an integral part of their recovery strategies was sent to the European Commission, which will be assessing the national plans before the Council gives the green light.
A central place for culture in the recovery of Europe is one of the main pillars of A Cultural Deal for Europe, an overarching framework-in-the-making that places culture in the heart of the European project. It urges Member States to direct funds from the European Recovery Fund to support the sector, devastated after the Covid19 and still dysfunctional in the majority of the Member States due to the lockdown restrictions. The Cultural Deal for Europe was jointly proposed by Culture Action Europe, the European Cultural Foundation and Europa Nostra (also in its capacity as coordinator of the European Heritage Alliance) at the high-level online conference on 18 November 2020, with the participation of, among others, Commissioner Mariya Gabriel, Parliament President David Sassoli, CULT Chair Sabine Verheyen, French Secretary of State Clément Beaune, and Committee of the Regions’ President Apostolos Tzitzikostas. #CulturalDealEU social media action day took place on the 13th of January 2021.
Portugal, which took the steering wheel of the rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU on the 1st of January 2021, will have the task of implementation of much of what has been agreed in the past months, including the unprecedented support by Next Generation EU. In the coming months, the Presidency will work to agree on a common European approach for the recovery of the cultural and creative sectors, included as a priority in its agenda. On Tuesday 26 January the Portuguese Presidency will present its priorities in the field of Culture before the CULT Committee of the European Parliament.