Culture and the media have suffered from the pandemic to an extent almost unparalleled in any other sector. But they make a vitally important contribution to bringing Europe together and to its economic dynamism.

That makes it all the more important to ensure that these sectors also benefit from European recovery measures, stressed Monika Grütters. The German Minister of State today chaired an informal meeting of EU cultural and audiovisual ministers within the framework of Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the EU. Under the banner - Preparing for the future – recovery of the culture and media sector - the meeting took the form of a video conference, as a result of the pandemic.

Grütters: a sign of solidarity with the cultural and creative sector

The ministers expressly welcomed the topping up of the Creative Europe assistance programme, which has already been agreed in principle. The programme assists the cultural economy and the audiovisual sector. Over the period 2021 to 2027, the programme is to receive 800 million euro more than the 1.46 billion euro it has had over the current promotion period, bringing the total to 2.24 billion euro.

This can be seen as a clear sign of solidarity with, and recognition of, the cultural and creative sector, said Monika Grütters. It is now important that agreement be reached and that the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework for the period 2021 to 2027 enter into force soon.

Gender equality in culture

Gender equality in culture was the second major item on the agenda of the meeting. Proposed by the German Presidency of the Council of the EU, this was the first time the matter had been discussed by the EU culture and audiovisual ministers at a Council meeting.

Greater gender equality means more creativity and is key to strengthening cultural diversity within the EU, underscored Monika Grütters. The Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media thus expressly welcomed the fact that the matter will remain firmly on the agenda under Portugal’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union, as of January 2021.

Ensuring a free and pluralist media system

Council conclusions have been adopted during Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the EU regarding how to put in place a pluralist, resilient media system at national and EU level in an age of transnational offerings.

These set out proposals for the sustainable financing of the media, and for strengthening a pluralist media landscape in Europe in the digital platform economy age as well as looking at ways of countering the dissemination of disinformation.

Monika Grütters expressed her conviction that the Commission and member states will act on these suggestions and pursue them. This, she added, is an important step at EU level in order to “ensure a free and diverse media system for the post-crisis period and with a view to any future crises.”

European Capitals of Culture

The meeting also looked at the European Capitals of Culture – one of the major beacons of the EU’s cultural policy. In 2025, Chemnitz will be the next German city to carry the title European Capital of Culture. The German government will provide a total of 25 million euro to support preparations. The second European Capital of Culture for 2025 will soon be named by Slovenia. Slovenia’s Minister of Culture Vasko Simoniti updated ministers on the relevant planning.

The impacts of the pandemic will necessitate modifications over the next three years. The current Capitals of Culture, Galway in Ireland and Rijeka in Croatia, will be able to extend their programmes into early 2021, while the next Capitals of Culture will launch their programmes later than originally planned.

Other items on the agenda

Other topical issues dealt with at the meeting included dealing with artefacts collected in the colonial context, taking the example of the Netherlands, whose Minister of Education, Culture and Science, Ingrid van Engelshoven, reported to the ministers. It is important to address the issue at European level, said Minister of State Monika Grütters, so that everyone can benefit from sharing views and experiences.

The French Minister of Culture, Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin, reported on recent developments in copyright law, while her Italian counterpart, Dario Franceschini, presented an Italian campaign to promote reading.