Videoconference of Culture and Audiovisual Ministers: Alleviating the impact of the pandemic on cultural and creative industries
On 1 December, EU ministers responsible for culture and audiovisual came together for a videoconference under the auspices of Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the EU. Minister of State Monika Grütters, Germany’s Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, chaired the meeting.
The ministers’ top agenda item was a policy debate titled “Preparing for the future – recovery of the culture and media sector from the COVID-19 pandemic”. Creative and cultural industries have been particularly hard-hit by the pandemic. The European Commission estimates that so-called creative and cultural ecosystems sustained financial losses of up to 70% in the second quarter of 2020 alone.
While other industries were able to bounce back during the summer months as case numbers decreased around Europe, cultural offerings such as festivals, concerts and museums continued to grapple with closures and decreased sales. Such developments not only impact the social and cultural fabric of the EU, but also its economic prosperity, as the European creative sector comprises some 4% of the EU’s overall economy. German Minister of State for International Cultural Policy, Michelle Müntefering, informed ministers about the effects of the pandemic on the international cultural relations of the EU.
Ministers then discussed how to tailor recovery measures in order to sustainably address the specific needs of creative and cultural industries, both during and after the pandemic. One such measure is the Creative Europe programme 2021-2027, which is expected to allocate funds from the EU’s next long-term budget to enhance artistic and cultural cooperation, boost competitiveness and innovation in European audiovisual industries and promote media literacy. The German Presidency informed ministers on the current status of the programme during the videoconference.
To wrap up the meeting, the incoming Portuguese Presidency presented its priorities for the cultural and audiovisual sector.
Videoconference of EU Sports Ministers: Discussions on sporting events during the pandemic in focus
EU sports ministers also met on 1 December via videoconference under the auspices of Germany’s EU presidency. Stephan Mayer, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community, chaired the meeting.
At the top of the ministers’ agenda was a policy discussion on how international sporting events are being impacted by the current pandemic. This year has seen an unprecedented number of major sporting events cancelled, including the Tokyo Olympics and the UEFA Euro 2020 football tournament. Events that do go ahead are being held in empty stadiums or with reduced capacity, and many gyms and sporting facilities around Europe remain closed.
Ministers were joined by three guest speakers: Executive Director of FIBA-Europe (International Basketball Federation) Kamil Novak, President of the European Olympic Committees Niels Nygaard, and President of the Union Cycliste Internationale David Lappartient. The discussion served as a follow-up to an earlier videoconference of sports ministers in May 2020, the aim being to exchange best practices and points of view at a time when much of the industry continues to suffer financially due to pandemic restrictions.
Afterwards, the German Presidency updated ministers on a Council resolution on the EU Work Plan on Sport 2021-2024, as well as Council conclusions on promoting cross-sectoral cooperation for the benefit of sport and physical activity in society. Portugal’s Secretary of State for Youth and Sports, João Paulo Rebelo, informed the other ministers about the outcome of recent meetings at the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), an international body to which he serves as the EU’s representative.
The videoconference ended with a look ahead to the first six months of 2021. The incoming Portuguese Presidency, which begins on 1 January, presented its sport policy priorities to ministers.