The political attention around the working conditions of artists and cultural workers in the wake of the pandemic continues gaining momentum. On Monday 27 September, the Committee on Culture and Education (CULT) of the European Parliament approved a non-legislative resolution on “The situation of artists and the cultural recovery of Europe” (rapporteur Monica Semedo, Renew Europe). Among other things, the text calls for the adoption of a European Framework on the matter – a topic on which stakeholders from the cultural ecosystem, including Culture Action Europe, have been vocal for a long time.
Time is ripe for the adoption of a European Status of the Artists, setting out a common framework and minimum standards for all EU countries, say CULT Members of the European Parliament, while taking into account the Member State’s national cultural policy specificities and labour market competencies. The Parliament’s resolution focuses on three different domains: “cross-border mobility”, “copyright income and streaming platforms” and “artistic freedom defence” recognising differences in the legislation, copyright, and censorship issues among Member States.
MEPs call for the removal of all barriers to cross-border mobility and the introduction of specific programmes for young creators and innovators to facilitate trans-European circulation – revising, if necessary, administrative requirements on visas, taxation, social security, as well as fully recognising arts education. Furthermore, in line with the ongoing political climate about making collective bargaining accessible also to individual workers and freelancers without facing the limits imposed by competition law, MEPs call on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that also artists and cultural workers can make use of collective bargaining and to enforce their protection in the frame of national copyright legislation, especially in light of the dominance of digital streaming platforms and their unsustainable practices, such as buy-out clauses.
The adoption of a European Framework for the Status of the Artists “will help to give artists and cultural workers a better and more secure livelihood by clarifying their status and simplifying access to social security,” said MEP Monica Semedo, who has been leading the work on the report, together with representatives of the various political families in CULT as well as the cross-party Cultural Creators Friendship Group.
The need to uphold freedom of artistic expression has also gained a prominent position in the report, with MEPs asking the Commission to sanction those Member States that fail to respect it. Artists risk facing political repression as well as criminal prosecution and fines or even imprisonment if their artistic work is perceived as unlawful in terms of legislation that is meant to regulate domains other than arts and freedom of expression, as made clear by several advocates.
In preparation of this report, overwhelmingly backed by the CULT Committee, Culture Action Europe had developed, together with the independent researcher Mafalda Dâmaso, a background analysis outlining both legislative and non-legislative instruments in the EU’s toolbox to adopt a comprehensive policy approach towards a European Framework for working conditions in the cultural and creative industries. A similar call was also featured before the summer in the Brainstorming Report of the latest structured dialogue of the Voices of Culture series on the “Status and working conditions of artists and cultural and creative professionals”, where 47 organisations representing Europe’s rich cultural ecosystem and the European Commission took part in.
Following the vote in CULT, the resolution will now need to be approved by the plenary of the European Parliament. The vote is expected to happen in less than a month, during October’s second plenary session in Strasbourg. Once adopted, the Commission will need to answer to the calls contained in the resolution.