Platform for Cultural and Creative Industries • Brussels

When EU leaders gathers to discuss and form policies for the European Union each participating member is balancing 1) their own nation’s interest and 2) the interest for EU as a whole. In that specific order.

EU leaders have been greatly criticized for not being able to put up a strong and convincing plan for how to come out of the financial crisis and save the euro. The balancing act between the interest of the nation and that of the structure as a whole is, to put it mildly, in conflict.

The discussion in the EU Platform for Cultural and Creative Industries is a miniature of the same problem.

EU Commission invited cultural organizations and networks in late 2007 to form platforms within different topics and policy-areas with the aim of coming up with recommendations to put in to the Commission’s work on culture. Spring 2008 these different platforms started their work.

Through the method structured dialogue the Commission hoped for a better – and more structured – dialogue between the Commission and the different actors in the cultural field.

The platforms have worked very differently. The Platform for Cultural and Creative Industries, a platform formed by around forty organizations, has proposed recommendations for the development of CCI but the road to finally agree on something has been bumpy. Some of the Platform’s participating organizations have refused to sign the final proposition, some have been objecting along the way.

No-one is surprised. Forty organizations representing publishers, audio-visuals, label companies, musicians and composers, architecs, universities and training centres and more gather in this one platform. The needs, structure, possibilities and challenges differ within each of these areas, so much that they can hardly be seen as one industry.

Is it just impossible, then, for the cultural field to agree and in consensus propose  strong overall recommendations to the EU that would benefit the sector as a whole?

Well, it’s symptomatic. What EU leaders fail to do on the large EU level, cultural organizations fail in their particular area. The interest of lobbying the agenda of the organization you are representing stands in the way of the interest for the sector as a whole.

It also needs to be said that the mandate for these platform called for by the EU Commission has been extremely vague if at all existing. The organizations forming the Platform for Cultural and Creative Industries have been working hard and with great seriousness taking the task of forming relevant recommendations.

The reception from the Commission has been lukewarm and the question hangs in the air if they have at all had any impact on forming the new cultural programme Creative Europe.

Still, Xavier Troussard, Head of Unit Cultural policy, diversity and intercultural dialogue, stresses that they now propose more money for the new programme, which of course in times of financial crisis would be an accomplishment however small it is.

It’s easy to in a haste and with frustration draw the conclusion that the actors in the cultural field can’t cooperate. It would be nice when the Commission now aims to evaluate the process, if it remembers to also look at the prerequisite set up for these platforms.

Sometimes the result you get depend on what question you asked.

Reflections from the meeting with The Platform for Cultural and Creative Industries, Brussels, February 6. Read also post here

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