The Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries (Ed Vaizey):
The Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council will take place in Brussels on 16-17 May. The culture, audiovisual and sport issues will be taken on 17 May. The Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, Ed Vaizey, will represent the UK at the culture and audiovisual section of the Council, together with the Scottish Minister for Culture and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop. The Deputy Permanent Representative to the EU, Shan Morgan, will represent the UK at the sport section of the Council.
Culture and Audiovisual
The Council will be invited to adopt a general approach on the proposal for a Decision establishing the European Capitals of Culture action for the years 2020-2033. This action will follow on from the current European Capitals of Culture action which ends in 2019. The proposal takes account of our key concerns in relation to the role of the Member States in the selection and designation process, and the UK will support the proposed general approach.
The Council is also expected to adopt a Decision designating Aarhus (Denmark) and Paphos (Cyprus) as the European Capitals of Culture for 2017 and Valletta (Malta) as European Capital of Culture for 2018. The UK will support this Decision.
The Council will hold an exchange of views on cultural diversity in the context of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the USA. This item has been requested by the French delegation. The French Government has expressed concern about protecting cultural diversity in the forthcoming EU-US negotiations. The UK will intervene to say that a broad and ambitious negotiating mandate is in Europe’s best interests in order to deliver a truly comprehensive deal that will bring substantial benefits to the economies of the Member States.
The Council will also hold a policy debate on the use of culture as a soft policy option in EU external relations. The UK will intervene in the debate to highlight how we are using culture in our own external relations to promote the UK as a great place to live, work, study and visit, building on the success of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympic and Paralympic Games last year, and we will emphasise the role of national identity in underpinning cultural diplomacy and building relationships with the wider world.
The Council will receive a report from the Presidency on the state of play in relation to a proposal for a Decision authorising the European Commission to participate, on behalf of the EU, in the negotiations for an international convention of the Council of Europe to combat the manipulation of sports results.
The Council is expected to adopt Conclusions on dual careers for athletes. These Conclusions are based on the ‘EU guidelines on Dual Careers for Athletes’ produced by the EU Expert Group on Education and Training in Sport, which is chaired by the UK. This is one of the outcomes of the European Union Work Plan for Sport for 2011-2014 which highlighted the role of education, training and qualifications in sport. The Conclusions recognise that young people should be supported as they seek to continue their education whilst aspiring to be high performance athletes. This will offer them further opportunities to contribute to society following the end of their athletics careers. The UK will support the adoption of these Conclusions.
On anti-doping, the Council will receive a report from the Presidency on the recent World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) meetings in Montreal on 11-12 May.
The Council will also hold a policy debate on the role of public authorities in combating increased sophistication of doping in sport. In this debate the UK will stress that to tackle doping in sport effectively, information-sharing and strong partnerships between the Government, anti-doping organisations, sport and law enforcement agencies are just as important as catching athletes through a rigorous testing regime.
Any Other Business
The German delegation will present a note on the Commission’s draft Communication on state aid for films and other audiovisual works. The UK will intervene on this item to indicate that we are broadly supportive of the Commission’s new draft of the Communication and that we welcome the Commission’s commitment to complete the consultation process as swiftly as possible.
The German delegation will also present a note on state aid reform – a general exemption from notification requirements for culture. Germany considers that the proposal for an exemption clause for state aid for culture should be discussed by the Ministers for Culture before the Council agrees to give the Commission powers to make such an exemption in the revised enabling Council Regulation. The UK is content with the proposal for an exemption clause and we do not expect to have to intervene on this issue.
The Presidency will present an update to the Council on the follow-up to the 2008 Council conclusions on architecture: culture’s contribution to sustainable development. These Conclusions included a requirement for a stock-take to assess their implementation and impact. This is now being taken forward. The Presidency’s update is expected to include a report on the recent conference of the European Forum for Architectural Policies in Dublin on 8-10th May.
The Presidency will also update the Council on the current state of play with the proposed Regulations establishing the Creative Europe and Europe for Citizens programmes for 2014-2020. Both these programmes will follow on from existing EU programmes. The Presidency is currently holding informal trilogues with the European Parliament and the Commission to discuss the Creative Europe regulation with a view to facilitating a first reading agreement. The Europe for Citizens proposal is currently with the European Parliament, which must give its assent before the Regulation can be adopted by the Council.
The Portuguese delegation will present a note on better connections for a better Europe in which they propose two new programmes designed to improve communications between Government and non-Government stakeholders across the EU on matters of general concern to cultural policy-makers. We do not propose to intervene on this item. Given the need to prioritise activities at a time of fiscal constraint, we will expect any formal proposals in this area to be properly costed and evaluated before we can form a view on them.
Finally, the Lithuanian delegation will inform the Council of the work programme and priorities for their forthcoming Presidency of the Council.