DATE: 26-06-2020

News on the European Budget for Culture

For more than a year, negotiations have been under way to agree on the future Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), the long-term budget of the European Union for the period 2021 to 2027. While it has never been easy to balance the interests of the member states, it is clear that the situation is even more difficult this time than in the past. First there was the lack of clarity about the consequences of Brexit and how an agreement on the future relationship between the EU and the United Kingdom would look like. Negotiations were further delayed in the second half of 2019 due to the reconstitution of the Parliament, the appointment of the new Commissioners and the members of the Parliamentary Commissions. When that was finally cleared up, Covid-19 came and mixed things up again.

Of particular interest to the cultural sector in these negotiations on the future Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) is of course the budget that will be assigned to the Erasmus+ and Creative Europe funding programs. However, also the Horizon Europe research program is becoming increasingly interesting for higher art education institutions. It is now clear that the budgets of Erasmus+ and Creative Europe will be smaller than the state of planning had provided still at the beginning of the year. Although the overall size of the EU budget should increase compared to the current MFF 2014-2020, most of this amount will go to the Corona Recovery Fund. Culture - it seems - will once more lose out here.

That's why it might be all the more urgent to advocate towards the national governments to use significant shares of the Recovery Fund that will be distributed to them to support the artists and the cultural infrastructure. Thus, at least some of the losses resulting from a cut in the Creative Europe program could be compensated. Although the AEC and the other networks active at European level in the field of culture are happy to support such actions, the main burden will be with national associations and with each and every of our members.

The interplay between European organisations that are active in the field of art, culture and cultural education is probably working better in these days than it was the case a few years ago. This might among other things be so due to the fact that umbrella organisations such as the European Music Council and Culture Action Europe are more visible than they have been in the past. Nevertheless, there still is room to improve and to even better coordinate concerted efforts and campaigns among the networks. For outsiders it can be confusing if several statements with almost identic wording are published and in addition are signed by the same organisations. Moreover, the interests of the music industry and those of performing or teaching musicians are not always identical, and it is sometimes challenging to balance them in a good way. However, we keep on course to making the sector as a whole speak with one voice. Experience shows that the better we do it, the more successful we are in making the voice of art, music and cultural education be heard.