Three years on, the new Creative Europe programme is finally on the starting line, following the green light by the EU Institutions, with the first calls to be published in the upcoming weeks. On 19 May the programme was finally adopted following a vote by the European Parliament following a debate in the plenary.
It was May 2018 when the proposal for a new Creative Europe programme 2021-2027 first came out as part of the new Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), after initial plans to discontinue the only EU dedicated programme to European cultural cooperation, that were widely criticised by the cultural and creative sectors, calling for the need to keep it as a stand-alone programme. Three years later, and with a pandemic that has exacerbated the already precarious conditions of Europe’s cultural ecosystem, not only has the programme been maintained, but also strengthened, with the biggest budget to date.
Until 2027, Creative Europe will have a financial envelope of around 2.2 billion euros in 2018 prices (more than 2.4 in current prices), 600 million more than in the Commission’s proposal (a +36% increase), bringing the programme closer to the goal of doubling the budget in comparison to the previous financial cycle. This was an objective that Culture Action Europe and many in the European cultural ecosystem have been tirelessly advocating for, with the campaign #double4culture.
“This is not only a symbolic recognition of the importance of culture, but it will allow us to finance more projects and help the sector recover from the consequences of the pandemic,” the Chair of the European Parliament’s CULT Committee Sabine Verheyen said, after the deal on the new programme.
What’s next after the Parliament vote? The Council, the other EU co-legislator where governments are represented, had already approved the programme, which now can enter into force, with a retroactive clause that makes expenses eligible as of 1 January 2021. In the meantime, the European Commission and the representatives of the Member States are working these days to fine-tune the Work Programme for 2021, which will serve as a basis for the publication of the calls by the beginning of June (with a two-month delay in comparison to what was originally planned).
According to provisional timelines, organizations from the cultural and creative sectors will have the summer to prepare and submit their applications, with the announcement of the selection results foreseen by the end of the year. Sooner evaluation will however be beneficial for many cultural agents that have been heavily hit during the past year.
Talks are already ongoing for the preparation of the 2022 Work Programme, as European Commissioner for Culture, Education, Innovation and Youth Mariya Gabriel assured on 18 May.
As in 2014-2020, Creative Europe will comprise three strands: Culture, aimed at the different European cultural and creative sectors (with 804 million EUR); Media, for the European audio-visual industry (with 1.427 billion EUR); and a cross-sectoral strand, covering actions spanning several cultural and creative sectors, and support for a free, diverse, and pluralistic media environment (211 million EUR). Creative Europe will also help individual artists, in the fields of mobility for individuals working in the cultural and creative sectors (treasuring the legacy of the iPortunus pilot project) and of establishing or improving collaborations, creating new work, developing audiences.
Among the priorities of the new programme, there is also the commitment to foster gender equality. When selecting experts to evaluate project proposals, due consideration will need to be paid to gender balance. Another key objective of the new programme is inclusion: the new Creative Europe aims to promote access for and the participation of disabled people and socially marginalized groups in the creative and cultural sectors, both as creators and audience members.
In this context, the Commission is tasked with simplifying the bureaucratic procedures for applying for the programme and allowing higher co-financing rates for small-scale projects, as recalled in a press conference, by the European Parliament rapporteur Massimiliano Smeriglio. The programme’s features a higher EU co-financing rate of 80% for small-scale cooperation projects, of 60% for medium-range, and of 50% for large-scale cooperation projects.