Meeting with BECTU and the Federation of Entertainment Unions European Working Group

Labour Party

This is an edited version of the report I presented to BECTU and the Federation of Entertainment Unions European Working Group this week.  I have taken out elements that have been covered in the blog recently, such as a section on International Women’s Day, but thought that people interested in the Cultural and Creative Industries may be interested to read it.  Here it is:

The Culture and Education Committee in 2011

One of the big issues that we have been looking at in the first two months of 2011 is the new communication on sport. Since the Lisbon Treaty the EU has new competences in regard to sport and this communication is the beginning of a new European sport policy. It deals with, amongst other things, laws regarding player transfers. Unfortunately, due to the financial crisis, there wasn’t room in the budget for sport to get any money. The EU could be such a positive influence in terms of funding for grassroots sports initiatives but we will have wait until 2013 before we get a budget. Towards the end of last year we had a representation from Wim Wenders and a number of other people involved in cinema. There was a very interesting discussion on the importance of cinema in European culture and there was much discussion of how it should be taught in schools.

Early Years Learning

I have finished writing my report on Early Years Learning in the EU. It has been a very interesting process and I am very much looking forward to the amendments that my colleagues on the Culture and Education committee will put forward. It was very well received in the committee and the discussion was very edifying. The commission will be putting forward their own suggestions in this area soon in the form of a communication. Further more, the Hungarian presidency have taken a huge interest in this issue and I was invited to speak at a conference in Budapest recently on just this subject. I talked about the need to ensure adequate funding for Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) since all the academic theories and exchanges of good practice will not get us anywhere unless there is enough money to improve and expand ECEC services. It is my firm view that ECEC should be universal, and we have a long way to go in Britain to achieve that.

Unlocking the Potential of the Cultural and Creative Industries

The commission has released a green paper recently about the cultural and creative industries which the Culture and Education committee has written a report about. The commission has recognised that in the recent decades the world has been moving at a fast pace. For Europe and other parts of the world, the rapid roll-out of new technologies and increased globalisation has meant a striking shift away from traditional manufacturing towards services and innovation. Factory floors are progressively being replaced by creative communities whose raw material is their ability to imagine, create and innovate. This is a good time for the European Commission’s Green Paper, officially endorsing the economic and social importance of the sector, to prompt discussion on ‘unlocking the potential of the cultural and creative industries’. The growth of cultural and creative industries in the European Union since the 1990s has been exponential in terms of job creation and their contribution to GDP. In London now the creative industries have overtaken banking as the single biggest employer. We will be voting on the 17th March and I think this report will be a useful tool in getting the Cultural and Creative industries the recognition they deserve.

Future Work of the Committee

In the coming months a lot of out agenda will be defined by the commissions recent communication Youth on the Move. From that document we can expect a number of directives that will seek to improve the chances of young people getting a decent education and good job prospects. Apart from that we will also be looking at a report on the future of European cinema in the digital age. The commission has recognised that for small independent cinemas, the conversion over to the digital format is prohibitively expensive and they could be left behind with the advent of 3D and the decline of standard film distribution. Given that these independent cinemas are more likely to show European, independent films, this would be a serious loss for culture and society. Therefore the commission is planning on providing grants for our independent cinemas that wish to make the transfer over to the digital format.