Europe’s recovery is very much on top of the list of all the EU institutions that have reconvened in September after a much-needed European staycation. All eyes both in Brussels and in the capitals are on how the complex financial architecture of the post-pandemic EU will work. This relates not only to the multiannual budget (2021-2027), but especially to the Recovery Fund – Next Generation EU – which is worth of 750 billion euros.
Despite the catastrophic impact that the pandemic and the consequent restrictive measures had on cultural and creative sectors, culture was a key absent of the debate back in July when the agreement was reached – if not for the slim increase of Creative Europe from 1,52 billion to 1,64 billion euros (far away from the 2,8 billion target asked by the European Parliament and the culture and creative sectors).
However, CCS can and should be brought back into the play now at the national level. Member States are drafting their own national plans, which will need to detail how they intend to spend the 672,5 billion euros of the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), the lion’s share of Next Generation EU, allocated directly to the bloc’s countries. Starting by mid-October, national governments will need to present their first drafts and engage in a dialogue with the Commission, which has recently published some guidelines to inspire the process. Although culture is not expressly featured in any of the flagship projects singled out by the Commission as priority areas for intervention, it inarguably should be integrated in many of them, ranging from digitisation to re-skilling and up-skilling. Especially as the Commission itself included cultural and creative sectors among the 14 ecosystems that should be prioritised in the recovery strategy.
A bold resolution overwhelmingly backed by the European Parliament during its last plenary meeting calls for at least 2% of the national Recovery and Resilience Facility to be earmarked for culture. This request echoes Culture Action Europe’s demand, in a joint position with the European Cultural Foundation from last May, when we called for at least 7% of the Recovery Fund to be devoted to culture, reflecting (and ambitiously going beyond) the CCS contribution to Europe’s GDP.
The EP resolution might have been well inspired by the case of France, the first country to announce a specific chapter for culture in its own national recovery and resilience plan, France Relance: 2 billion euros out of 100. Many other countries are following the example, including Germany that is holding the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU and that has already backed the idea to have a specific earmarking for culture in the RRF, during the debate in the CULT Committee MEPs a few weeks ago.
MEPs have also mirrored such plea with an amendment in the committee on Budgets (BUDG), which together with the committee on Economic Affairs (ECON) is working on the legal text of the regulation establishing the RRF.
The complete national recovery and resilience plans should be submitted by Member States by April 2021, assessed by the Commission and approved by the Council by qualified majority.
This article was first published in the September edition of Culture Action Europe’s monthly News Digest, accessible for CAE members only. Would you like to be informed about political developments affecting culture and the arts in the EU and get access to similar insightful knowledge every month? Consider joining Culture Action Europe and benefit with a myriad of services we provide to our members. Any questions? Do not hesitate to contact natalie[@]cultureactioneurope.org