Brussels, 14 February 2018
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Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a real pleasure to be with you today. I am honoured to officially launch the Preparatory Action “Music Moves Europe: Boosting European music diversity and talent”. This initiative is a very important step towards our objective of promoting and strengthening the music sector in Europe.
“Music Moves Europe” comes at a decisive moment. The European Union has to take big decisions to prepare for the future. One of the key questions for European decision-makers will be: how can we best harness the power of culture?
Culture is high on the EU’s political agenda – and not only because 2018 is the European Year of Cultural Heritage.
In November last year, EU leaders discussed how education and culture can strengthen people’s sense of belonging to a shared cultural community. As a contribution to this debate, the European Commission presented an ambitious vision in its "Communication on strengthening European identity through education and culture". And we decided to revamp the current European Agenda for Culture – our strategy for our cooperation on culture – so that citizens can develop a stronger sense of their identity as Europeans, of Europe’s cultural heritage and of our cultural diversity.
On the funding side the Commission is preparing the new generation of EU programmes for the period starting in 2021. Regarding culture, we will build on the strengths of Creative Europe, which is working well. Its current objectives remain broadly valid, but there is a need for some further integration and expansion. And there is – I think – a common understanding that it is underfinanced, with a mere 0.15% of the EU budget going to culture. Some say that funding for culture should at least be doubled.
We know that discussions on the next multiannual EU budget will be difficult, especially with the United Kingdom leaving the Union. But there is growing recognition that it is high time to invest more in culture, in our cultural and creative sectors that have such an important role in fostering social development and boosting innovation, economic growth and job creation.
My aim is indeed to have, after 2020, a bigger, well-resourced programme for the cultural and creative sectors. We will streamline and scale up some actions of the programme and we will create synergies with other programmes. Our ultimate ambition is to foster the continuous development of the cultural and creative sectors, including of course the music sector.
I see three main reasons for such an investment:
The first one is the economic significance of the music sector: it is the third largest employer, after the performing and visual arts, among the cultural and creative sectors, with more than EUR 25 billion per year of revenue generated in the European Union.
The second reason is that music is an essential component of Europe’s cultural diversity. Music has the power to unite us, to teach and transmit values and to enrich our lives. But music does not circulate enough from one country to another: contrary to books or, to some extent, to films, music tends to be mostly listened to within national markets. By increasing the circulation of European music, we would promote our cultural diversity in an incredibly powerful manner.
And third, it is the right moment to take action. The music sector has experienced significant challenges because of the digital shift – but it has recovered. It has emerged from the crisis with new business models and new production, distribution and consumption patterns. It has shown resilience and a strong innovation capacity.
Investing in the music sector therefore means investing in competitiveness, in cultural diversity, in resilience and in innovation. And I do not want us to miss this opportunity.
The good news is that we are not starting from scratch.
“Music Moves Europe” builds on the already existing support for music under Creative Europe. This includes the valuable projects, networks and platforms that have received funding, as well as the European Border Breakers Award, the EU prize in the field of music.
Creative Europe has enabled thousands of artists and creators across Europe to come together to work on common projects and to share ideas and experiences. And we have supported innovative projects, like the great Opera Vision platform, which brings high-quality European opera performances to everyone for free through a simple Wi-Fi connection.
One month ago, at Eurosonic in Groningen, we celebrated the 10 new young artists who received a European Border Breakers Awards. After 15 years of successful experience, we are convinced that we must develop this scheme further.
This is a lot, but this is not enough.
We have listened to you, and we have noted your concerns as to the limits of our current forms of support. You told us that we need more targeted actions to accompany the changes the sector is making to develop new business models and new distribution channels, for instance. You asked for better support to reap the benefits of digitisation. Thanks to this dialogue we are now aware of some gaps in our current support to the music sector.
I am therefore very pleased that at the end of last year the European Parliament approved the Preparatory Action “Music Moves Europe” and earmarked a budget of EUR 1.5 million for 2018. I want to thank the Parliament for opening up this opportunity for us to test new ideas.
So what are we going to work on in 2018 to support the music sector?
Music circulation will be one of our priorities, both online – thanks to new streaming channels – and in the physical world. I believe that music is first and foremost an exchange between artists and an audience, and we will certainly not forget live music.
Another topic will be artists and repertoire development. This is where creativity flourishes, and Europe must absolutely keep its creative competitive edge there.
Professionalisation and training is a third priority. On increasingly global markets, artists need to boost their capacity to compete for audience and success.
And we will finally address export as a way to expand the audience of European musicians. This will benefit each of them professionally, but also enable them to promote our cultural diversity and create economic value for the sector.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me conclude by thanking all of you for your support for this initiative. I encourage you to stay involved and make your voice heard in this very important period as we take the decisions shaping the future of Europe.
I wish you an interesting and fruitful exchange of views this afternoon.