Ideas and a new impetus for culture in Europe
Culture not only forms identity, but also builds bridges and fosters understanding and connection. Culture is not merely a luxury for good times, but is right at the core of our societies. The same applies to our media. In particular, in times of crisis they ensure access to reliable information and make creative and cultural content available online.
This is why Germany’s Council Presidency will focus in the area of EU culture and media policy, among other things, on how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted culture and the cultural and creative industries. We will also put a new emphasis on the issue of gender equality and gender roles in the cultural sector. In the field of media policy, we will focus on protecting media pluralism and strengthening free speech.
Germany’s interests in the field of cultural and media policy are represented at European level by Monika Grütters, Minister of State for Culture and the Media. Under the German Council Presidency, Minister of State Monika Grütters will chair the meeting of EU culture and media ministers on 1 December 2020.
EU cultural policy
Rarely has culture been so important in the history of the European integration process as it is today. Monika Grütters, Germany’s minister of state for culture and the media, said she was convinced that “[I]n our democratic societies, culture, as an expression of humanity, is the place where the European idea comes to life, where unity in diversity can succeed”. Minister of State Grütters will chair the EU Council of culture and media ministers during the German Council Presidency.
Culture and cultural policy are, in principle, the responsibility of the individual member states. When it comes to tackling common tasks like protecting cultural heritage, promoting the creation of artistic and literary works or preserving cultural diversity, they are supported by the EU.
During its Council Presidency, Germany will pursue the following cultural policy objectives:
On 1 May 2020, the European ministers of culture and the media issued a joint Declaration pointing to the exceptional situation of the culture and media sectors in the COVID-19 crisis and paving the way for joint European support action. This initiative launched by the Croatian Council Presidency will be continued by the German Minister of State for Culture and the Media.
The idea is, in particular, to continue the sharing of experience on action that has already proved to be successful. The German Council Presidency will endeavour to make sure that European recovery measures are tailored to providing efficient support also to the hard-hit cultural and creative sector including the media.
Creative Europe is the name of the European Commission’s programme for support for the culture (CULTURE) and audiovisual sectors (MEDIA). It also includes a Guarantee Facility for the cultural and creative industries. Creative Europe aims to encourage artists and creatives to act Europe-wide, to tap new audiences and markets and to develop capabilities that are needed in the age of digital transformation and globalisation.
With this programme, the EU seeks to preserve and foster Europe’s cultural and linguistic diversity. In addition, the programme aims at strengthening the competitiveness of the European cultural and creative sectors to promote smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and social cohesion in particular in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.
The current Creative Europe programme expires at the end of 2020. It is therefore the task of the German Council Presidency to finalise the follow-up programme for the period 2021 to 2027. To this end, the current negotiations between the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union have to be concluded. This hinges very much on the EU heads of state and government agreeing on the EU financial framework for 2021 to 2027.
The German Council Presidency will also focus on gender equality in the cultural sector. The aim is to increase awareness of gender equality and to ensure equal opportunities in particular in times of crisis. The coronavirus pandemic has again made it clear how deeply rooted gender roles believed to be obsolete still are and how difficult it still is to combine work and family life.
Gender equality should also play a greater role as a criterion in the EU’s funding framework. Furthermore, it is necessary to work towards equal representation in decision-making bodies and leadership positions. Council conclusions on this issue are to be adopted on 1 December 2020 at the meeting of EU ministers for culture and the media chaired by Minister of State Grütters.
Our cultural heritage is a mirror of our history and our identity and therefore deserves particular protection. For many years, the Minister of State for Culture and the Media has worked for comprehensive and effective protection of our cultural heritage at the national and international level. She supports initiatives not only of numerous cultural institutions, but also of the EU that serve to protect cultural property and counter the illegal trade in cultural assets.
The aim is to advance work in this field under the German Council Presidency. To this end, ICOMOS, the International Council on Monuments and Sites, and the informal network of law enforcement authorities and experts competent in the field of cultural goods (EU CULTNET) will hold expert meetings.
Awarding the title of European Capital of Culture is one of the EU’s best-known cultural policy initiatives. Since 1985, every year two cities from two different member states have been appointed European Capitals of Culture. Since the decision of the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union in September 2017, every three years cities from EU accession candidates and EFTA/EEA countries have also been able to apply.
The aim of the European Capital of Culture initiative is to highlight the richness and diversity of cultures in Europe, celebrate the cultural features Europeans share, increase European citizens’ sense of belonging to a common cultural area, and foster the contribution of culture to the development of cities.
In 2025, Germany - alongside Slovenia - will again be able to designate a European Capital of Culture. The cities of Chemnitz, Hanover, Hildesheim, Magdeburg and Nuremberg have submitted applications. The final decision on awarding the title will be taken during the German Council Presidency.
EU media policy
Germany’s Council Presidency aims to contribute in a meaningful way to shaping the EU’s media policy agenda in the coming years. It intends to work out measures and proposals for future media regulation on which subsequent Council presidencies can build.
Within the Federal Government, responsibility for audiovisual media policy at national and international level rests with the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media. This is why the Federal Government Commissioner will chair the Audiovisual Working Party of the Council.
The Audiovisual Working Party will discuss how to create a pluralist and resilient media system at national and EU level at a time when media content is offered across borders. It will also draft Council conclusions on this topic.
Protecting media pluralism and freedom of expression requires, on the one hand, plurality on the part of the providers - media actors, media types and ownership structures - and, on the other, diversity of content, i.e. the broadest possible range of information, ideas, positions and audiovisual content. Among other things, we intend to discuss with the other member states how to support professional journalism and promote diverse high-quality content and make it easier to find and access.
The Council conclusions on media pluralism will also include results and proposals from the digital conference series Pluralism and Responsibility: Media in a Digital Society, organised by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.
This conference series will take place in cooperation with Deutsche Welle and with the participation of the federal states, the state media authorities, the European Audiovisual Observatory and the Hans-Bredow-Institut. The conference series will start on 7 July 2020. For further information please see