Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear friends,

I would like to thank you for the kind invitation to join your General Meeting today.

You all know how dear your work is to my heart.

I want to thank you also for the cooperation in the past years when I was Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society.

I am happy to continue that work, as Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth in this Commission.

Today I will speak about three issues:

  1. First, how Covid-19 has affected our cultural and creative sectors.
  2. Second, what were the emergency measures taken.
  3. Third, explain the opportunities for the sector under the recovery package.

Over these past months, you have voiced concerns about the major impact the pandemic has had on the cultural and creative sectors.

Indeed, our artists and the creative sector are facing an unprecedented crisis.

Many cultural sites had to be closed and events cancelled.

People are also deprived of royalties that they would normally receive in the short and medium term.

In fact, 95% of the cultural and creative sectors consists of small enterprises, independent artists and freelancers, who are even more vulnerable and disproportionately affected.

Moreover, many creators cannot rely on safety nets present in regular employment arrangements.

I would like to take this opportunity and sincerely thank you for the measures that you, as a collective, have taken to provide support, via your special cultural and social funds, to creators to alleviate their situation in their respective countries.

This shows that the response has to come from the sector itself.

I will come back to that in a minute.

I would also like to thank you for your vision and support in calling ambitious EU budgetary measures for the sector, even ahead of the European Commission’s proposal.

Before I go into the opportunities we provided for in the recovery plan, let me start by outlining the emergency measures that we have taken to address the crisis.

First, we set up two platforms to help share solutions at EU level concerning the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the cultural and creative sectors.

A platform for EU Member States, was launched on 24 April that allows culture ministries to exchange good practices.

On 5 May, we launched a second, for and by the sector entitled “Creatives Unite”, that offers a common space for all cultural and creative sectors in Europe and beyond to share their initiatives and actions in response to the Coronavirus.

I know that some of your societies are already active on this platform and I encourage those who have not done so to post content, good practices and cooperation opportunities there.

Tomorrow, on 26 June, an online conference will be organised through this platform with the participation of the current Croatian Presidency, the incoming German Presidency and the members of the European Parliament.

Most importantly, it will be an occasion for the sector to present concrete proposals and have a direct exchange with us.

It will be the first time that such a conference is organised.

I really encourage you to attend.

My aim is to identify 4/5 concrete measures to be taken at European level that can help strengthening the resilience of the sector.

Concerning the Creative Europe Programme, we have adopted maximum flexibility measures for its current beneficiaries and applicants.

In parallel, we are preparing a new specific initiative to help the live arts sector: a support scheme for the physical and online distribution of live performances.

This will directly benefit theatres as well as dance, circus and street arts festivals.

I strongly advocated to add a digital dimension to this as travel is still limited and this could continue throughout next year.

During the lockdown, we could view online recordings of all kinds of shows (concerts, plays, ballets, operas, etc.).

They were generally free of charge, which of course raises the question of the remuneration of artists.

Digitalisation allowed to maintain the link with the world of the living arts and find new audiences for their future live performances.

Digital is not a long-term solution for a sector based on a direct live exchange between artists and their public.

Nor can it be the main channel for artistic creation and expression.

Emotions from a live performance should be shared directly.

A digital recording can, however, be a useful complement and be included in the distribution plan for further exploitation of the works.

Enhancing digital skills is very relevant for this.

The budget for this new action is €2.5 million. The call was published mid-June and the activities should already start in the autumn.

Under the Music Moves Europe initiative, we will launch a €2.5 million call still this summer to support the recovery of the music ecosystem by helping it become more sustainable in the longer term.

The focus will be on targeted actions for a green, digital and fair recovery.

The lockdown measures have obviously had a significant impact on professional mobility and exchanges.

Last year we launched an experimental initiative, i-Portunus, to implement a mobility programme for artists and cultural professionals.

We will build on the initial success of the initiative and launch the second phase of this programme as soon as cross-border travel is allowed.

We expect the first calls to be launched after the summer.

Finally, given the increased synergies between the programmes under my remit, it is my intention to launch a major call for projects still this year under Erasmus+.

It would enable organisations in the fields of education, training and youth to develop, together with the cultural and creative sectors, projects to strengthen the skills needed to better adapt to the changes resulting from the crisis.

Finally, in cooperation with the European Investment Fund, we are also exploring ways to enhance the Cultural and Creative Sectors Guarantee Facility to allow for more flexible repayment schemes, credit holidays or to increase guarantee coverage on individual loans.

I hope that I will be able to share more positive information on this soon.

Now let me turn to my third and last point: the opportunities under the recovery package.

As you know, on 27 May the Commission proposed a massive economic recovery plan called “Next Generation EU”.

Support to the cultural and creative sectors, including audio-visual and news media, will be provided via the future Creative Europe programme.  

Creative Europe will keep on promoting European cooperation on cultural and linguistic diversity and cultural heritage as well as increasing the competitiveness – through one innovative element: Creatives Labs - of these sectors.

With an overall amount of €1.52 billion in 2018 prices, the revision of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) increases the programme’s budget by 8% compared to 2014-2020 levels in the EU-27.

As we are still negotiating the new budget, I encourage you to approach the co-legislators in support of further increases.

The proposed recovery and budget package also offers increased opportunities for funding culture outside Creative Europe.

Support will be available in particular under programmes and funds such as REACT EU, the new 2021-27 cohesion policy, InvestEU, and the Digital Europe programme, to name just a few.

These are important and can benefit the whole sector.

I count on you to be promoting and explaining these possibilities to your members.

Before concluding my speech, I would like to share one idea with you.

As you know, the Next Generation EU recovery package is divided into loans (250bn€) and grants (500bn€). 

Imagine if 1.5% or 2% of 500bn€, the grants part, could be earmarked for the cultural and creative sectors.

This would make a huge difference.

I encourage you to liaise with your members and with the Member States so that they include cultural and creative sectors in their national strategies.

This would be a great achievement, for us all.

As you know, I am also responsible for Innovation and Research.

It is the first time in the history of the European Commission that culture and youth is linked to innovation and research.

I intend to seize this opportunity but I also want to share it with you.

I can see you doing it via two channels: First, Cluster 2 on Culture, Creativity and Inclusive Society in the next research and innovation framework programme, Horizon Europe.

Second, the new “knowledge and innovation community” managed by the European Institute of Technology in Culture and Creative Sectors.

These are important possibilities. My work will be to create synergies between all these instruments but I strongly encourage you look beyond Creative Europe.

Finally, our regulatory environment to enable and support our European cultural diversity and creators.

You all know how dear these topics are to my heart.

What I can tell you is that, from where I stand, I will keep paying close attention to make sure that we follow up on the promised to your sector.

I am closely cooperating with Commissioner Breton to ensure that the recent legislative reforms on, for instance, the modernisation of copyright rules and the revised audiovisual regulatory framework, are effective and their benefits are felt on the ground.

We will soon adopt guidelines that will allow concrete implementation of the new audiovisual rules. We are also working on the implementation of the Directive on copyright to ensure that creators are properly remunerated for the use of their works.  

It will also help address some of the challenges in the current crisis.

At the same time, I am committed to ensuring that the culture dimension is fully factored into our renewed digital strategy called “A Europe fit for the digital age”.

This includes the need for further regulation of digital services.

The Digital Services Act package should be adopted by the end of the year.

This is an important opportunity to set ambitious European standards.

An open public consultation was launched earlier this month on the possible measures that the package could include.

I count on your active participation in this and future consultations.

I look forward to our future cooperation and encounters.

I thank you once more for the invitation and the inclusion in your program.

Thank you.