The adoption of a “European Status of the Artists” is high on the political menu following the adoption in the European Parliament last week of the resolution on “The situation of artists and the cultural recovery of Europe”, drafted by Monica Semedo (Renew Europe, Luxembourg). After the unanimous support in the CULT Committee, the plenary approved the text with 543 votes in favour, 50 against and 107 abstentions on Tuesday 19 of October.
Among other things, the resolution – which now will trigger a formal reply by the European Commission – calls on the EU’s executive branch to set out a common framework for working conditions and minimum standards common to all the Member States, while fully respecting the respective national competences and responsibilities in labour and cultural policy. It takes onboard some recommendations put forward by Culture Action Europe in the study developed for the European Parliament on the topic.
The debate in Strasbourg tackled the three main domains of the resolution: “cross-border mobility”, “copyright income and streaming platforms” and “artistic freedom defence”.
More specifically, MEP Monica Semedo stated that the resolution is “not only about recovery itself, it is to give greater security to those affected”. The cultural and creative sectors and industries were “the first to close and last to open” because of the pandemic, causing financial distress to a sector which experienced losses in turnover of over 30% in the year 2020, as per the E&Y report on the COVID-19 impact on the cultural economy.
However, as MEP Semedo said, “many artists already struggled before COVID-19”. She urged Member States and the Commission to “take specific measures to tackle unstable income, unpaid work and job insecurity and to safeguard a minimum standard of income for artists and cultural professionals”. Furthermore, the rapporteur encouraged the lowering of bureautic burdens, such as work permits, or permits for holding festivals as well as double taxation for cultural workers acting across borders. Lastly, phenomena of political repression, all forms of discrimination and threats to artistic expression are condemed in the report since “freedom of artistic expression is a core value of democracy and the EU”, MEPs added.
The Open Method of Coordination discussion among national experts that is starting in parallel will already offer the chance to have an overarching discussion on good practices and guidelines with respect to, inter alia, contracts, means of collective representation and management, social security, sickness and unemployment insurance, pension schemes, direct and indirect taxation, non-tariff barriers and information asymmetries, as well as to facilitate the monitoring of progress in relation to improving the working conditions of artists.