Film-makers Stephen Frears, Béla Tarr, Costa-Gavras, and veteran theatre director Peter Brook are among 50 leading figures of the European creative community to sign a declaration “For a New Deal for Culture in Europe.”

Less than two months before the elections for the new European Parliament on May 25 and the appointment of a new European Commission, the declaration’s authors said they were “convinced that the digital revolution is an opportunity for culture. Just as culture is an opportunity for the digital economy, ‘fueled’ as it is by the ‘works of the mind’.”

“If we want our cultural policies to be modernized, one of the main issues is that all cultural works providers, in particular the Internet multinationals, be integrated into the economy of creation. It is an important goal to achieve in order to ensure equity between all cultural works providers. And it is a challenge for our future,”

The declaration, whose first signatories also included the musicians Jean-Michel Jarre and Vladimir Cosma as well as the directors Agnès Jaoui, Volker Schlöndorff, Pablo Berger and Jaco van Dormael, was read out on the first morning of the two-day Forum de Chaillot (April 4-5) in Paris.

The declaration in French and English  can be accessed and signed online at https://14349.lapetition.be/

28 European CNCs launch two-fold agenda

On the eve of the Forum de Chaillot dedicated to the “Future of Culture, Future of Europe”, the European Film Agency Directors (EFADs) agreed at a meeting on April 3 to “fully take part in building the future of European film”

The EFADs launched a two-fold agenda which will see them:

  • “regulating and committing the new digital operators, especially the Internet “giants” who, through their transnational dimension, avoid the regulation and fiscal policies of Member States their programmes are targeting and do not pay their fair share to the European audiovisual creation.”

and

  • “developing new schemes at European level in order to promote a coherent audiovisual strategy. Initiatives towards increasing film literacy, reinforcing co-productions, and promoting European films across the world should be further encouraged as they undoubtedly contribute to a better integration of the audiovisual sector at European level and foster a European common identity.”

“Meaningful dialogue”

At the same time, the 28 “European CNCs”, which include France’s CNC, Germany’s Federal Film Board (FFA), Greek Film Centre, the British Film Institute, and the Croatian Audiovisual Centre, announced that they would shortly be hiring a Brussels-based representative to foster “a meaningful dialogue” with the European Commission and the European Parliament.

Moreover, the EFADs roadmap called for “the designation of a single Commissioner to lead the [European] audiovisual policy” and “the setting up of  a European Parliament intergroup focused on audiovisual issues and, more broadly, on the promotion of cultural diversity.”

Reopening the debate on the future of culture in Europe

Organised by France’s Ministry of Culture and Communication, the Forum de Chaillot was attended by the Culture Ministers of the EU member states, Switzerland’s Minister of Culture Alain Berset and Ukraine’s recently appointed  Minister of Culture Yevhen Nyshchuk as well as EC Commissioners Vassiliou and Barnier.

“While cultural diversity has been at the heart of European discussions in recent months, we want to open up a debate on the future of culture in Europe,” the Forum’s organisers explained.

“Cultural democratization, the economic weight of culture, the circulation of works and artists, digital policy and copyright are some of the main issues to map out a strategic approach for culture in Europe.”

“There are major debates ahead: adjustment to the new digital environment, promoting cultural diversity in trade agreements, the future of copyright; the sustainability of the financing of creation. Europe has had a Digital Agenda since 2010, so it is now urgent to promote an EU cultural agenda,” they concluded.

From ABBA to MPAA

The two days of roundtables included contributions from people as diverse as ABBA’s Björn Ulvaeus, choreographer Bianca Li, MPAA CEO Chris Dodd, film-makers Julie Bertucelli and Radu Mihaileanu, European Parliament President Martin Schulz and producer Margaret Ménégoz.

In one roundtable about new challenges in regulatory policy for the digital age, Jean-Paul Salomé of France’s L’ARP referred to concerns about imminent plans by Netflix to launch operations in France from a base in Luxembourg and called for platform neutrality.

Carlo d’Asaro Biondo, President of Southern & Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa Operations at Google, rejected the proposals, which were expressed in the “New Deal” declaration and the EFADs appeal, that multinational operators should make their fair share toward the financing of creative works through regulatory and fiscal policies.

“One can’t imagine a taxation system that would be symmetrical between the different countries,” Biondo argued, adding that “globalisation is a reality which one must admit and accept.”