MEPs encourage first step towards European Status of the Artists

April 25, 2022, 2:43 pm

The pandemic revealed many structural problems underpinning the cultural and creative sectors in Europe, especially concerning social protection schemes available to artists and cultural and creative workers. On April 8th, 10 members of the Cultural Creators Friendship Group (CCFG) addressed an open letter to the European Commission as well the CULT and EMPL Committees of the European Parliament, stressing the magnitude of the pandemic’s impact on the Cultural and Creative Sectors (CCS) and calling for a unified response on a European level. The letter was sent to the Executive Vice-President in charge of the “Economy that Works for the People” portfolio Valdis Dombrovskis, the Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights Nicolas Schmit, and the Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education, and Youth Mariya Gabriel. 

According to the group of MEPs, this can be considered the first step toward a European Status of the Artist as proposed by the European Parliament in 2021, setting a framework for equal social rights and working conditions for CCS professionals across the EU safeguarding minimum standards in terms of income, social coverage and overall labour conditions. 

The CCFG members highlighted the existence of vast differences in terms of speed and efficiency regarding the way Member States reacted to the issue at stake, as well as the general lack of data regarding the cultural and creative sectors in Europe. The differences observed in Member States’ responses to these urgent problems largely derived from differences that preceded the pandemic, most notably concerning social security systems and safety nets already established for CCS professionals – or the lack thereof. Indeed, the pandemic exacerbated pre-existing trends, as CCS professionals had been facing difficult working conditions and problematic insurance schemes even before COVID-19, and in most Member States.

The open letter calls for a detailed mapping of the social security systems and the safety nets that exist for cultural and creative workers in each Member State. This aims at having a clear picture of what applies to each Member State as well as at gathering the up-to-date and sector-specific data needed for a comparative study, while at the same time localising the good practices already existing in this field, allowing for their benchmarking. 

This way, the MEPs argue, the Commission could take the appropriate initiatives in this direction and Member States could organise peer-learning meetings on this subject, not limiting themselves to the currently ongoing Open Method of Coordination group on the Status and Working Conditions of Artists, that will conclude its work by the end of this year.

“It is high time to fill the gaps in order to help the policymaking both on EU level as well as on national level and to promote the improvement of the conditions that professionals in the cultural and creative sectors face” the MEPs state in their address. After all, any sound policy design needs to have strong foundations in terms of situation analysis and therefore reliable and updated data and overall information.

The letter has been signed by MEPs Alexis Georgoulis (The Left/Greece), Domenèc Ruiz Devesa (S&D/Spain), Ibán García del Blanco (S&D/Spain), Dace Melbārde (ECR/Latvia), Niklas Nienaß (Greens/Germany), Marco Ros Sempere (S&D/Spain), Monica Semedo (Renew Europe/Luxembourg), Massimiliano Smeriglio (S&D/Italy), Salima Yenbou (Renew Europe/France).

Read the letter here.

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