The EU needs to add more culture to its diplomatic efforts to promote human rights, democracy and development in third countries, says a resolution passed by Parliament on Thursday. At the same time, it should step up support for creators of culture and complete the single market for their on-line works whilst protecting copyright, adds a separate resolution, also passed on Thursday.
MEPs advocate setting up a "cultural diplomacy" directorate within the EU External Action Service, appointing one person in each EU overseas representation to take charge of cultural relations and promoting European culture, and introducing EU cultural visas for artists and other culture professionals.
"Culture can and should be a facilitator for development, inclusion, innovation, democracy, human rights, education, conflict prevention and reconciliation, mutual understanding, tolerance and creativity", says the resolution, drafted by Marietje Schaake (ALDE, NL), which also states Parliament's support for a free and open internet, condemns any attempts to censor it, and objects to the use of cultural arguments to justify human rights violations. This resolution was passed with 519 votes in favour, 46 against and 25 abstentions.
More support and recognition for cultural industries
Meanwhile, to complete the EU's own single market for on-line cultural works, another resolution passed on Thursday recommends removing obstacles (such as differing VAT rules and diverging payment methods for online sales) and guaranteeing broad access, whilst protecting copyright and authors' earnings.
This resolution, by Marie-Thérèse Sanchez-Schmid (EPP, FR), proposes an EU licensing system and one-stop-shop clearance of rights. MEPs also call for action to combat abusive commercial practices and copyright violations, whilst "ensuring that laws protecting intellectual property rights do not constitute an unreasonable or discriminatory barrier to access by people with disabilities to cultural materials".
To support creators of culture, MEPs suggest improving access to credit, micro-financing, repayable advances and venture-capital funds, and creating more incentives for patronage and public-private partnerships in the cultural field, such as tax relief. They also call on the Commission to provide financial support for entrepreneurial projects and start-ups proposed by people under 35. At the same time, Parliament underlines the need to recognise professional qualifications and combat pay discrimination in this sector.
Parliament also calls for more EU support for the translation, dubbing, subtitling, supertitling and digitisation of European cultural works, and proposes a specific budget line to support the digitisation of European cinemas.
Sarajevo - a cultural capital in 2014?
Finally, in a resolution passed by a show of hands, MEPs urged the Commission to consider allowing a likely bid by Sarajevo to be named European Capital of Culture in 2014, on an exceptional basis.
Procedure: Non-legislative resolutions