New redistribution of the Commissioner – designate portfolios proposed by Von der Leyen today, does not explicitly include culture in any of the titles of the college of commissioners.
Within the 26 unusual portfolio titles EC president proposed, ‘culture’ as such has gone missing. Von der Leyen entrusted Commissioner Mariya Gabriel, the former Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society from Bulgaria with Directorate-General for Research and Innovation as well as the Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture. However the word culture does not figure in her new portfolio’s title: ‘Innovation and Youth’. Neither does research and education.
As Von der Leyen phrased it in this morning’s news conference “we have a structure that focuses on tasks […] We need to be able to deliver on the issues that matter the most, rapidly and with determination.”
The question that arises is whether culture is considered as “the issue that matters the most” by the new commission president. In her July opening statement Ursula Von der Leyen committed to build a united Europe of peace and values. It is pertinent to ask whether the new structure of her team recognizes the intrinsic value that culture has in building a united and peaceful Europe, based on an open, diverse, dynamic, fair, inclusive and democratic culture.
“Myself and the whole cultural sector is very concerned about the latent downgrading of culture in the name of Ms Mariya Gabriel’s portfolio. ”- said Robert Manchin, president of Culture Action Europe.
Culture is the foundation of who we are as human beings. It allows us to take part in collective life, binding us together when pursuing shared objectives. Without the explicit recognition of cultural dimension, the future of the European Union as a common endeavour is difficult to imagine.
Culture Action Europe will continue to advocate to put culture at the heart of public debate and decision making and work within changing institutional arrangements to foster the contribution of culture to the different policy domains.