Beyond – The Conference of the Austrian EU-Presidency on Creative Industries

Vienna, 4 October 2018

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Ministers, ladies and gentlemen,

I am very happy to be here with you at this 8th European Creative Industries Summit. It is fitting that this event takes place while we are negotiating the EU's future budget for the period 2021 to 2027. A budget that should play a stronger role in supporting the cultural and creative industries.

Why? Because creativity is crucial for Europe. It drives knowledge and innovation, fostering economic and social development. And based on creativity and talent, the cultural and creative sectors generate economic wealth and shape European identity, culture and values. They boost growth and create jobs – in particular for young people – while strengthening social cohesion. Investment in these sectors brings multiple benefits beyond the economic return.

Culture has always been at the heart of the European project. This venture will only succeed if people across our continent develop an emotional connection to it – and to each other. Culture is the one factor that brings that connection to life. The growing divisions between and within our Member States are a stark reminder that we need to work harder on building bridges. Culture must be one of the key pillars of this bridge.

Our ambition to work with the cultural and creative industries to help achieve this is clear throughout the Commission's proposed budget. For example in the future Invest EU programme: the cultural and creative sectors, together with audiovisual and media, will be eligible to receive funding. Moreover, in Horizon Europe – the EU's flagship programme for research and innovation – we have proposed to finance projects connecting cultural heritage with emerging creative sectors to foster cross-sectoral activities. 

At the heart of our efforts is the successor programme to Creative Europe. We want to raise the budget to EUR 1.85 billion over seven years. I am convinced that I can count on the Austrian Presidency in supporting this ambitious proposal in the negotiations.

Funding needs to go hand in hand with policy priorities. This is why I proposed a New European Agenda for Culture this year. Key to this Agenda is recognising the power of culture and cultural diversity to make Europe more socially cohesive and economically competitive. It outlines how we want to boost job creation and growth in the cultural and creative sectors for instance by promoting arts and culture in education, encouraging relevant skills, and fostering innovation in culture.

I would also like to stress that our ambition for the new programmes is grounded in past experience. The current Creative Europe programme and Horizon 2020 have proved vital in supporting cultural and creative industries.

Let me give you some examples.

Since 2016, the Cultural and Creative Sectors Guarantee Facility has supplied financial institutions with free-of-charge guarantees for loans to organisations in these sectors. The total budget amounts to EUR 181 million, and nine agreements have been signed so far, providing more than EUR 75 million in financing to 320 small and medium-sized enterprises – very often a financial lifeline for them.

Another very successful initiative funded under Creative Europe is the "EU Network of Creative hubs", which has helped young innovative creators to better connect with each other, to expand knowledge on business models and to help to build an EU-wide community.

As for Horizon 2020, over EUR 68 million have been invested to promote innovation in the cultural and creative sectors. These funds financed a wide range of projects, for instance on how new technologies and tools can drive and enhance creative processes from an idea's conception to its production.

Promoting culture is about more than funding projects, however. We also support policy-makers at all levels in making the most of culture as a driver of economic growth and social development in our regions and cities. A vibrant cultural environment not only fosters innovation, it also contributes to higher living standards in local communities, helping to make cities and regions attractive – an important factor in the global race for the best brains.

To help policy-makers and cultural operators at the local level harness this potential, the Commission's in-house science service, the Joint Research Centre, has developed the Cultural and Creative Cities Monitor. This tool, which we launched last year, provides comparable data on how 168 cities across the continent use culture to foster growth and cohesion. The Monitor therefore helps these, as well as other cities, identify and build on their strengths and learn from each other. It is an excellent example of how the EU can support policy-making and creativity right where our citizens live. I am looking forward to launching a mobile application of the Cultural and Creative Cities Monitor later this year.

It will be part of the legacy of the European Year of Cultural Heritage that we are celebrating in 2018. Because while the Year is an important opportunity to promote culture and cultural heritage as a driver of social and economic development, we need to ensure they stay high on the political agenda in the longer term.

That is why I intend to present an Action Plan for Cultural Heritage which will address all dimensions of cultural heritage, including the economic and social one. It will be a road-map for a more ambitious cooperation in this field for years to come.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Culture and creativity play a vital part in building inclusive, fair and resilient societies – and a better Europe for the future. Never before has there been such a focus on these areas at the European level as there is now. Let us work together to ensure we make the most of this moment, to ensure they remain at the top of the political agenda well beyond 2020. I hope I can count on all of your help in making this ambition a reality.

I wish you all very fruitful discussions. Thank you.