Home Political science Cultural Governance and the European Union: Protecting and Promoting Cultural Diversity in Europe
The development of an explicit cultural policy by the EU
Evidence suggests that the faith the founders placed in the cultural logic of economic integration may not have been misplaced, in that individual interaction with different groups can increase appreciation of living in a multicultural society. Citizens who engage in cultural exchanges have been found, for example, to be far more likely to consider that diversity highly enriches the culture of their own country than those who do not (27 percent v. 15 percent - The Gallup Organisation, 2007: 7),16 while those who report that they have had recent contact with a representative of a non-mainstream culture have been found twice as likely to express 'cosmopolitan' views as those who did not (30 percent v. 16 percent (ibid.: 9)). Nevertheless, the number of individuals with an open, cosmopolitan mindset varies considerably within and across member states. In a recent Eurobarometer study, two-thirds of Europeans (67 percent) were ranked 'low' on the study's 'openness index', assessing Europeans' openness to other EU countries (European Commission, 2013a: 43-44).17 There has also been a downward trend in the number of citizens who see the EU in a positive light, dropping from 50 percent in 2006 to 30 percent in 2013, while 11 percent of those surveyed reported that the EU conjured up a loss of national identity (European Commission, 2013b: 101 and 64).
As noted above, there is widespread acceptance within the Union and member states that the market alone cannot be relied on to drive cultural development. This is in part because:
Prior to the Maastricht Treaty, member states adopted very different positions as to the need for explicit European competence in the cultural field, rendering Treaty amendment difficult. For those states such as the UK that wished to maintain the EEC's predominantly economic focus, or Germany, where cultural competence rests with the Lander, what was needed was more a formal reminder that the EEC should not undermine domestic cultural policies, with, at most, restricted scope for the EEC to support member state initiatives. It was also argued that any coordination necessary in the cultural field could be addressed through established international cultural organisations such as UNESCO or the CoE. At the other extreme, states such as France began to question whether, in focusing initially on economic as opposed to cultural integration, the founders of the EEC might not have put the metaphorical cart before the horse (Efinger, 1976; Gordon, 2010: 101). The Copenhagen Declaration on European identity (Heads of State or Government of EEC Member States, 1973: para. 3) linked the establishment of a European Union with both 'a common European civilisation, the attachment to common values and principles' and the preservation of the diverse cultures of the member states, while the Tindemans Report (Tindemans, 1976) argued that European integration would not be successful if it remained merely a technocratic project.18 Recent Eurobarometer studies give some support for this assessment, with the citizens surveyed indicating that they now consider culture to be the main lever for creating a feeling of community (28 percent), followed by the economy (24 percent), sport (23 percent) and history (22 percent) (European Commission, 2013a: 30).
More opportunistically, some member states such as Italy and Greece saw the potential for alternative sources of finance to help preserve their rich cultural heritage, as well as benefits stemming from further coordination. The ministers of culture of the member states began to meet informally alongside, then within, the Council from 1983, with a number of initiatives, such as the European Capitals of Culture, starting life as inter-governmental agreements (Craufurd Smith, 2004a; Psychogiopoulou, 2008). Without an explicit Treaty basis EEC action in the field was, however, potentially open to legal challenge. The Commission, for example, in its 1977 Communication on Community action in the cultural sector (European Commission, 1977) grouped under the heading 'other actions' a number of initiatives, such as the European youth orchestra, that could not easily be justified under the existing economic or social TEEC provisions.
These competing visions of the future of European integration shaped the culture article when it was finally adopted in 1992. On the one hand, there is a marked emphasis on the EU's role being primarily a subsidiary one: only if necessary is the EU to support or supplement the actions of the member states in the cultural field (Article 167(2) TFEU). This subsidiary role is now further underlined by Article 6 TFEU, which classifies 'culture' among those fields where the EU has competence merely to 'support, coordinate or supplement' member state action. Harmonising measures were explicitly excluded by Article 167(5) TFEU, though the initial requirement of Council unanimity to adopt incentive measures or recommendations has been replaced by qualified majority voting. On the other hand, the culture article does establish (where necessary) independent EU competence in the cultural field. In particular, Article 167(2) TFEU lists a number of potential strands of action, all of which have found reflection in the EU's subsequent cultural policy initiatives. These include the fostering of an understanding of 'the culture and history of the European peoples' (expressed, therefore, as a shared culture); conservation of cultural heritage; and support for non-commercial cultural exchanges (thus action outside the market dynamic), as well as literary and artistic creation. Article 167(3) TFEU authorises the EU to take action at the international level in the cultural field, cooperating with third countries and international organisations with a cultural remit, notably the CoE.
'Identifying any coherent policy principles in the European Union ...with regard to "culture"' has been said to be 'a futile assignment' (Gordon, 2010: 101), and it is notable that it took 15 years from the introduction of the culture title for the EU to adopt an explicit cultural policy. The Cultural Agenda identifies three key policy objectives: the promotion of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue; the deployment of culture as a catalyst for creativity, enhancing growth and jobs; and the promotion of culture in the context of the Union's international relations. It recognises that culture has both intrinsic and instrumental values, advancing mutual understanding and peace, enhancing economic growth and promoting 'a stronger presence [for the EU] on the international scene' (Commission, 2007a: 3). It also confirmed a broad, non-elitist approach to culture, covering popular and youth culture, which has characterised much EU thinking in the field.19
Article 167(1) TFEU recognises a role for the EU in encouraging the 'flowering' or development of the cultures of the member states while at the same time 'bringing the common cultural heritage to the fore'. It is thus broad enough to encompass support actions that previously could have been introduced under other Treaty provisions, notably the industry article, as well as new initiatives that could not, such as those primarily concerned with intercultural understanding or the fostering of a common identity. Measures of the latter type are less likely to find favour with the member states than the former, given their potential impact on national identity.20 If we consider the various culture initiatives adopted by the EU over time it is possible to detect a shift from the early programmes, which combined overtly cultural (fostering cross-cultural understanding, a common identity and European values) with industrial concerns (professionalisation, capacity-building and development of the sector), to the most recent Creative Europe programme in which economic and technological development concerns now dominate (European Commission, 2011a; European Parliament and Council, 2013a).
The first programmes adopted by the EC post-1992 were relatively contained: Ariane (1997-1999) concerned books and reading; Raphael
(1997-1999), support for cultural heritage; while the more wide-ranging Kaleidoscope (1996-1999) sought to encourage artistic and cultural creativity and co-operation at the European level (European Parliament and Council, 1996, 1997a, 1997b). The subsequent Culture programme (2000-2006) created greater cohesion by bringing many elements of the previous programmes together within a single overarching framework (European Parliament and Council, 2000b). This programme expressly engaged with both the identity-building and sector support elements in Article 167 TFEU. It thus aimed, on the one hand, to highlight the common cultural heritage and cultural diversity, as well as foster a sense of citizenship, intercultural dialogue and enhanced access to culture, while, on the other, to support creativity, innovation, the exchange of know-how, socio-economic development and the 'economic dimension' of culture (ibid.: Article 1). Ultimately, this proved overly ambitious given the limited funds available (€240 million) and was replaced by the Culture programme (2007-2013), which focused on just three objectives: promoting the transnational mobility of individuals and organisations working in the cultural field, promoting the trans-border flow of cultural and artistic works, and intercultural dialogue (European Parliament and Council, 2006a: Article 3).
Though member states undoubtedly support initiatives designed to foster cultural diversity and international engagement in their domestic cultural policies, the emphasis on cultural exchange and multilateral transnational collaboration in order to enhance understanding among EU citizens takes EU cultural policy to another level. In encouraging networks between operators in the 'old' and more recent EU member states, the culture programmes enabled expertise to be shared and the development of a sense of solidarity among cultural operators at the European level. The first culture programme was initially rather conservative in the projects it supported, relatively few of which engaged with minority concerns (Ahmed and Hervey, 2003/2004), while the mid-term review of the second programme indicated that there was a tendency for the funded organisations to engage with questions of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue in an essentially passive way, by assuming that collaborative projects would, as a matter of course, further such objectives (ECORYS, 2010: 79-80). The two initial programmes nevertheless had a marked impact on professional attitudes and ambitions and supported an extremely wide range of innovative projects exploring Europe's physical and intellectual cultural diversity - from the heritage of European sheep farming and pastoral life to Art Nouveau architecture and the 'common value' of generosity.21
As with previous programmes, the recently launched Creative Europe programme (2014-2020) seeks to 'safeguard and promote' 'European cultural and linguistic diversity' and continues to emphasise the transnational circulation of cultural works and personnel but its primary objective is to 'strengthen the adaptation of the cultural and creative sectors to globalisation and the digital shift', with a clearer focus on 'capacity-building and transnational circulation,... European platforms with a large-scale structuring effect, and more strategic packages... for literary translation' (European Commission, 2011a: 7-8; European Parliament and Council, 2013a: Articles 4-5). The programme spreads its net wider than just the cultural sector to embrace also the creative industries and brings together under one framework the culture and media support schemes. Creative Europe also establishes a new €121 million loan facility (Article 14) and is open to a wide range of third countries, including those participating in the EU's neighbourhood agreements (Article 8). The emphasis is on adding economic value and enhancing market opportunities, with a new focus on enlarging potential audiences.
What explains this marked 'industrial turn'? A focus on the economic contribution of culture was always going to be more palatable for those member states wary of the cultural implications of a European cultural policy. Such concerns led to the impact of the previous cultural programmes being contained through tight funding limits. Under the most recent Culture Programme (2007-2013), an average of €57 million was, for example, made available annually for the 27 member states and nine participating countries, which the Commission estimated was less than the annual running costs of many national opera houses and well below the sums allocated for the arts and culture at that time by the UK (?590 million), France (€7.5 billion), and Germany (€8.5 billion) (European Commission, 2011b: 10). Importantly, the EU emphasis on the creative industries, internationalisation and capacity-building chimes with domestic initiatives that seek to encourage the cultural sector to become more commercially viable and address the fallout from the recent economic downturn.22 The interim evaluation of the second cultural programme also noted that some 'stakeholders' had argued for a reorientation towards cultural experimentation and the 'economic dimension' of culture (ECORYS, 2010: 28).
An emphasis on the economic potential of culture is also attractive for those administrators and politicians, domestic and European, charged with cultural affairs, strengthening their negotiating hand and status. Importantly, too, the EU as a public patron is required to be accountable for its funding decisions and a focus on economic indicators offers certain attractions. The 2010 review of the operation of the Culture Programme (2007-2013) raised significant questions as to the effectiveness of the programme in certain areas and overall priorities (ECORYS, 2010). The impact of the (inevitably) geographically and temporally dispersed initiatives on the formation of a European identity, intercultural dialogue and cultural diversity is difficult to assess, and rendered all the more problematic because the Commission has left such concepts largely undefined (Gordon, 2010: 103-105). As noted above, this enabled participants to adopt a rather opportunistic approach to their realisation and only a minority of projects really engaged with 'difficult issues, including tensions between cultures and communities' (ECORYS, 2010: 79-80). Audience reach and sustainability were also noted to be problematic. The Creative Europe programme seeks to address these limitations and requires detailed annual reports to be prepared focusing on specified indicators, with an emphasis, as shown by Article 18 of the programme, on economic and developmental factors such as share of GDP, number of employees, internationalisation, pro- fessionalisation and direct and indirect audience figures. Despite Article 22 CFR there is no reference in Article 18 itself to the impact on cultural diversity or to the quality or cultural value of the projects that are supported, once again emphasising the industrial imperatives that lie behind the programme.
This is not to say that the practical implementation of the programme by the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency will not further many of the cultural goals that lie behind Article 167 TFEU and the additional financial support will certainly be valued by the cultural sector. The Regulation establishing Creative Europe was modified considerably by the European Parliament during its passage (European Parliament, 2012a, 2012b) and there is certainly scope to pursue less commercial, more socially oriented, projects. Also, Article 20 of the Creative Europe Regulation now empowers the Commission to develop further qualitative assessment indicators and the present award criteria for applicants for cooperation projects allocate 25 points out of 100 for practical implementation, which includes the 'quality of the activities and deliverables'.
The major focus remains, however, on competitivity, sustainability, reach and professionalisation rather than enhancing citizenship or intercultural dialogue, which underpinned previous programmes. Although projects exploring, for instance, the European pastoral tradition, funded under previous programmes, are not in principle excluded, it will certainly help the proposers if they can show that their project will enhance employment, has a good prospect of being economically sustainable and will attract a significant audience. Such attributes are, of course, desirable in that public money is not provided solely for the benefit of the cultural operators themselves, and if EU-funded projects are to foster an enhanced sense of community then they need to reach out to audiences. But it seems inevitable that some of the commercially more risky projects, as well as those that sought to engage in a meaningful way with local or minority cultures, present in the first two framework programmes, will be lost.
In terms of international relations, the EU has sought to protect its cultural industries from external trade pressures by refusing to open up Europe's audiovisual sector to World Trade Organization service provisions and played a key role in negotiating the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions (UNESCO Convention) (Craufurd Smith, 2007a; Ferri, 2005). In line with the Cultural Agenda, the EU has also deployed culture as a tool to enhance its influence abroad, seeking, for instance, to build relations with China through the EU-China High Level Cultural Forum in 2010; enhancing relations with Eastern neighbours through the Eastern Partnership Culture Programme;23 and agreeing cultural cooperation agreements with countries such as South Korea that require contracting states to ratify the UNESCO Convention (Harcourt, 2012: 721).
The expanding role of the EU in the cultural and human rights fields has necessitated further thought as to the relationship between the EU and CoE, whose objectives in relation to culture - the promotion of cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue and cultural participation - closely mirror those of the EU. The EEC initially saw the CoE as a think tank, clarifying concepts and carrying out 'fundamental research', which could then be operationalised, if thought desirable, by the EEC (European Commission, 1977: 6). Though there has been ongoing cooperation between the two institutions, the 2006 report by Jean- Claude Junker, Council of Europe-European Union: 'A sole ambition for the European continent', underlined the need for this to be taken further (Junker, 2006), while the EU's objection to participation by its member states in a revised Transfrontier Television Convention caused real tensions (MacSithigh, 2013). More recently, there have been moves to strengthen cooperation and trust between the two institutions, building on the 2007 Memorandum of understanding (Council of Europe and
European Union, 2007). The Committee of Ministers of the CoE has noted an 'unprecedented qualitative change in mutual relations', with further attempts to enhance synergies in standard-setting and monitoring between the two organisations (Council of Europe Committee of Ministers, 2013, 2014: 1).
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