In accordance with the subsidiarity principle, the European Union’s cultural promotion policy seeks to complement the cultural policies of the Member States. Article 151(4) of the EC Treaty requires that the European Union take cultural aspects into account in all of its activities. Its political actors are thus to ensure the "cultural compatibility" of all decisions taken.
The European Union also intends to improve the basic conditions of the cultural economy, so that this can realize its potential in terms of employment, competitiveness and growth. 2007 sees the launch of the programmes "Culture 2007" and "Europe for Citizens", which aim to intensify cultural exchange as well as promote town-twinning and active citizenship.
Preparations will also begin for the "Year of Intercultural Dialogue 2008": http://europa.eu/pol/cult/index_en.htm
The field of audiovisual media is largely the responsibility of the individual Member States. Community regulations and guidelines are intended to aid the common internal market and ensure fair competition. One such example is the Television without Borders Directive, which the European Commission proposed for revision in December 2005: http://europa.eu/pol/av/index_en.htm
The Ministers of the EU Member States responsible for culture and the media will meet during the German Presidency at the Education, Youth and Culture Council in Brussels on 24-25 May 2007. Minister of State Bernd Neumann, the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, will preside over the Council in its culture and audiovisual configuration.
One priority of the German EU Presidency in the first half of 2007 will be culture as a contributor to growth and employment within the framework of the Lisbon Strategy and in general the role of culture in Europe. A study presented by the European Commission has conclusively confirmed the economic significance of the cultural sector.
The German Council Presidency will build on the impetus generated by the Culture Ministers' debate at the Council Meeting of 13 November 2006. Further steps to strengthen the creative sector will be discussed at international conferences on the cultural industries in Berlin on 3-4 May 2007 and in Hamburg on 31 May – 1 June 2007.
Enhancing the role of culture in Europe
The Commission communication on the role of culture in Europe, expected early in 2007, will also be of key importance to the German Presidency. The communication will among other things examine cultural industries and Article 151 (4) of the EC Treaty, according to which cultural aspects are to be taken into account in all EU policy areas. It will thus highlight the fact that culture is an interdisciplinary topic of relevance to other policy fields.
The new three-year work plan
Discussions on a new three-year work plan are expected to be launched during the German Presidency. This plan will set out the priorities for the Council's further work in the cultural field. It will follow on from the existing work plan, which covers five priority issues (Lisbon Strategy for growth and employment, digitization of Europe's cultural heritage, mobility of artists, mobility of art collections and the Culture Portal). The conclusions of the Commission communication on culture in Europe should also be fed into the work plan.
Establishment of common positions at international level
The UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions will enter into force during the first half of 2007. Given the potential impact of the liberalization of trade in services pursued by the WTO on the cultural sector, the Convention expressly reaffirms the Parties' sovereign right to formulate and implement their own cultural policies.
The EU Member States are parties to this Convention, as is the European Community. During the German Presidency, common positions will be elaborated for the constituent Conference of Parties in Paris in October 2007. An international conference entitled "Cultural Diversity – Europe's Wealth. Bringing the UNESCO Convention to Life" will also be held, at which we will discuss matters relating to the implementation of the Convention in Europe with civil society representatives.
Fostering a sense of common identity
A number of important instruments for EU cultural policy will enter into force with the start of the German Presidency. These include the Culture Programme for 2007-2013, which succeeds the Culture 2000 programme and promotes cultural networks and mobility in the cultural sector, as well as the programme "Citizens for Europe" (2007-2013) which promotes active European citizenship.
The programme for the Year of Intercultural Dialogue in 2008, which will highlight the diversity of European cultures, will be launched in 2007. Germany attaches great importance to these support programmes, since citizens who are actively involved in cultural projects are able to participate in a most palpable way in exchange and cooperation across national borders. And precisely this fosters a sense of shared European identity.
Improved procedures will also take effect in connection with "European Capitals of Culture". Essen (representing the Ruhr area) has been chosen as one of the Capitals of Culture for 2010, along with Pécs in Hungary and Istanbul in Turkey. Germany's preparations for an exciting programme of events are already in full swing.
EU cultural policy to complement national policies
The legal basis for EU cultural activities is Article 151 of the EC Treaty. The European Union's cultural policy thus complements the national policies of the Member States in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity. It is of importance wherever it can support cross-border cooperation, exchange and networking and can provide European added value.
The revision of the Television without Frontiers Directive
The revision of the Television without Frontiers Directive will be a priority of the Council's work in the audiovisual field during the German Presidency. This Directive is a European legislative cornerstone and provides the legal basis for the free movement of broadcasting services in the European Union and promotes the development of a European market in broadcasting services and related activities (e.g. TV advertising and the production of audiovisual programmes).
The legal framework now needs modernizing to cover new transmission technologies for audiovisual media and to adapt to the changes these have brought to the industry. The European Parliament closely examined the draft Directive submitted by the European Commission at its first reading in December 2006 and proposed a number of amendments.
The discussions in the Council at present centre on issues such as the scope of the new directive, the country of origin principle, the directive's interaction with other European legislation (e.g. the E-Commerce Directive) and the new provisions on advertising, including product placement. Building on the consultations held during the Austrian and Finnish Presidencies, the German Presidency hopes to adopt a Council common position in May 2007.
The new programme Media 2007 (for 2007-2013) will come into effect at the beginning of the German EU Council Presidency. It is designed to support the audiovisual sector in Europe.
A series of high-level meetings and events will be held under the German EU Presidency.
It is especially important that civil society be involved in all the cultural policy issues that fall within Brussels' remit. Major international conferences organized in cooperation with public and private partners at EU, federal, regional and local level will be held on many of the key issues.
These include in particular cultural diversity, cultural identity, intercultural dialogue, the creative economy, cultural tourism, digitization and the archiving of cultural heritage, as well as the mobility of artists and collections and co- and self-regulation in the digital media. The Federal Government will host a Euro-Mediterranean Youth Parliament for young people from EU and Mediterranean countries under the auspices of the Barcelona Process.