Is there one identifiable “European culture”, or is the €1.46 billion budget allocated to the Creative Europe programme for the cultural and creative sectors for the years 2014-2020 totally misspent?
MEPS held a heated on Thursday, 02 March, in a mini-plenary in Brussels over the utility the Creative Europe programme, approved by the European Parliament on 19 November 2013.
Creative Europe encompasses the EU’s previous Culture and MEDIA Programmes which have been in effect for more than 20 years. Programmes that existed under the Culture and MEDIA strands, such as the European Capitals of Culture, European Heritage Label, European Heritage Days and the five European prizes (EU Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra Awards, EU Prize for Contemporary Architecture, EU Prize for Literature, European Border Breakers Awards, and EU Prix MEDIA) continue to operate under Creative Europe.
The rapporteur, Silvia Costa (S&D Group, Italy), spoke at length about the necessity of centralising some sort of harmonisation of cultural projects all across Europe, with a view of operating a cultural rapprochement with Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean countries, especially Israel and Tunisia, the more so since 2018 will be the European Year of Cultural Heritage.
She was backed by Carlos Moedas, EU Commissioner for Research and Innovation, who encouraged “cultural diversity through centralising” resources. Modes spoke about “competitiveness in arts” and integrating refugees through cultural programs.
All this, and expressions such as the “creative industry” have irked Euro-sceptic MEPS, who vehemently denied the very existence of a “European culture”.
The German Hans-Olaf Henkel, from Liberal-Conservative Reformists, insisted (rather theatrically): “I love Italian food, and there some of them in Brussels, but there in such thing as European food; there is no European music, or European literature. “
Henkel even underlined that in Germany there is no such thing as a Culture Ministry, because there is no need for it, culture being private and autonomous and not under the control of some centralising structures.
Commissioner Moedas defended the idea that culture helps understand better not only ourselves, but also our neighbours. He also defended the integration of refugees through culture. The same point was taken by the Romanian MEP Maria Grapini (S&D Group) who asked rhetorically the minority of opponents in the scarcely occupied hall: “Would you rather prefer to know your neighbours from the nearby house, to understand their mores and customs, or rather would you prefer to know nothing about them?”
Creative Europe has a budget of €1.46 billion over seven years, which represents a 9% increase over the previous budget, The programme has set aside funding for 250,000 artists and cultural professionals, 2,000 cinemas, 800 films and 4,500 literary translations,
This year’s European Capitals of Culture are Paphos in Cyprus and Aarhus in Denmark.