Newsdigest | January-February 2015

January 27, 2015, 9:42 am

Have you heard that…

Commission’s Work Plan for 2015 has been adopted

On December 16, 2014 the European Commission adopted its work plan for the year 2015. The institution set up the document by itself, exercising its right of initiative. The work plan presents six priorities, including an “Ambitious Digital Market Package” which incorporates copyright review (as well as digitalisation). In addition to these priorities, the Commission also evaluated legislative processes that were started under the previous EC’s mandate and will choose to drop projects that do not align with Juncker Commission’s guidelines or that are considered to be stuck in the process.

For more information, click here.


Latvian Presidency priorities have been set up
On January 14, 2015 the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the EU was launched and will remain in place until the end of June 2015. Latvia succeeded to the Italian presidency and continues its work on the development of cross-sectorial policies. The new Presidency committed to raising awareness about the positive role and impact of culture on other areas (i.e. its social and economic effects) and promoting culture not only as an instrument for growth but also as a development goal. The priorities and objectives have been set up in accordance with EC’s 2015 Work Plan and they put the Digital Single Market – and consequently the work on the copyright legislation and audiovisual policy reviews – high on its agenda.

To read more about the Latvian Presidency click here and to learn more about the Latvian program click here.
To read the summary of the Italian Presidency click here.


A hearing on human rights in Hungary raised important questions

On January 22, 2015 a hearing on human rights in Hungary took place at the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee of the European Parliament in order to assess the situation in the country. The public hearing gathered official Hungarian government representatives, civil society actors, as well as Council of Europe and Amnesty International representatives.
The situation in the country is still problematic regarding certain points (e.g. press freedom and xenophobia), as stressed in the CoE report and reiterated by the civil society advocates. Claude Moraes, chair of the LIBE committee, pointed out that “the EP has to make an effort to ensure that fundamental rights are respected in member states, even if it is one of the most difficult and sensitive tasks” and took the initiative to follow up on the situation.

To read more about the Human Rights situation report by the Council of Europe click here and to watch the hearing, click here.


Did you know that…

The Greek elections drew strong response from world’s leading economy experts

On January 26, 2015 the New York Times published an article by the Nobel-prize winning American economist Paul Krugman on the situation in Greece, in which Krugman explains why he thinks that Greece’s 2010 standby arrangement with the troika (the IMF, the ECB, the EC) was an economic fantasy which transpired into a socioeconomic nightmare. One of the most influential economy theorists of our times blames the supposedly hard-headed officials’ faith in “the confidence fairy” for the devastating results of the austerity measures. On 30 January, 2015 Krugman published a follow-up piece in which he calls for abandoning the “self-serving myths” on the use of loans for subsidizing Greek spending and suggests to “stop substituting moralizing for analysis” instead.


EU leaders called on further measures against Russia

On 27 January, 2015 in some of the most explicit remarks from the EU since the conflict began almost a year ago, the 28 heads of state issued a statement saying there was “evidence of [Russia’s] continued and growing support” for separatists who want parts of eastern Ukraine to secede from Ukraine. They also called on the EU to consider “further restrictive measures” against Russia.

You can find the official statement here.


London National Gallery’s staff is to stage a strike

The five-day strike to be staged from 3 February, 2015 hints at what may be in store for public cultural institutions in Europe, post-TTIP. Plans by the museum’s management to outsource virtually all its services implies that the staff will be rehired by a private company, which can transfer them to any other workplace and/or cut the already meagre workers’ rights. As the Guardian writes, “the gallery’s grant is being cut, so it needs to make more money with extra paid evening events”, which puts additional pressure on the management to save on staff rights. Relying on private funding in cultural services has precisely been one of the US demands in recent Translatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations.

In its initial offer for the TTIP negotiations, the EU’s Schedule of Specific Commitments and Reservations stated that limitations on market access in EU libraries, archives, museums and other cultural services are “unbound”, with the exception of Austria and Lithuania, where “participation of private operators in the libraries, archives, museums and other cultural services’ network is subject to concession or licence.” The encroachment of privatization in public cultural services therefore needs to be adequately addressed in talks with DG EAC so as to prevent systematic precarious working conditions in this sector across the Union.


The LUX Prize 2014 winner earned wide foreign critical acclaim

On December 17, 2014 the Lux Prize was awarded to Pawel Pawlikowski’s film Ida. While EP’s Culture Committee is finalising a report on European cinema in the Digital Era and the discussion is focusing on the diffusion of European films in the EU as well as outside its borders, Ida provides a shining example of high-quality European cinema reaping success outside Europe. Not only is it one of the frontrunners in the Oscar Best Foreign-language Film race, but it has also earned a nomination for its superb black-and-white cinematography. Hopefully this will pave the way for a wider international distribution of smaller European productions.

Read more about it here.


A participative mapping project on French newly closed cultural structures has been launched

On January 23, 2015 a French street arts and circus professional Emeline Jersola launched a map called “Cartocrise – Culture française tu te meurs” (“Mapping the crisis – French culture, you are dying”) in order to map cultural events or structures that have been cancelled or closed since last year’s French municipal elections. It appears that when the cities’ political leadership had been changed, lots of projects were dropped, especially in the street arts and music sectors according to the map. With this project, Jersola hopes to raise collective awareness on the problem and open the discussion on the place of culture in society, as culture is often the first victims of budget cuts.

To take part in the project and notify events or structures you can send an email to the artist. To see the map click here.

Image for: Newsdigest | January-February 2015