A not so unified Union...

(c) European Parliament 2018

At the Cannes Film Festival more than 500 filmmakers came together, urging EU citizens to vote in the European elections. Many EU citizens did vote, in fact the turnout was 51%, the highest in 20 years.

Was it Greta Thunberg’s fame for climate that inspired green voters? The Brexit headlines that made citizens cast their vote? Fear of a more culturally diverse Europe that provoked the extreme-right? And did the election campaigns really impact people to go to the ballot boxes? We can only speculate; what we do know for sure, though, is that Europe is now divided.

The major established parties, the EPP and the S&D, lost their joint majority. The ALDE and Renaissance coalition and the Greens/EFA gained seats and have now the determining swing role for a governing coalition, as the EPP and S&D are unable to form a majority without them. The far-right, populists and the Eurosceptic parties have grown worryingly across Europe, although less than the polls anticipated (luckily, their strong disagreements will prevent them from cooperating with each other). The composition of the European Parliament mirrors a polarized Union with stark differences between Member States and within; behind the “Green Wave” in Germany were the young voters, and the voting results in Sweden show that the extreme-right is dominant far away from the capital.

Arts and culture can be an opportunity to bridge differences within a Parliament that consequently will have a hard time to get along and reach political agreements on many issues. Culture has the potential to contribute to the well-being of society at large (read our blog post). Since 2007, the European Parliament has been screening movies to engage MEPs in topical European debates. Let’s hope this years’ LUX Film Prize finalists will be as relevant and powerful as last year’s films: Woman at War, Styx and The Other Side of Everything.

As SAA, we will propose to new MEPs to set up a Creators’ Intergroup as a way to come together across the political spectrum, generate new solutions, address gaps, tackle gender inequality and promote EU authors’ rights and culture globally (read our blog post). The previous European Parliament finalised three key pieces of legislation for filmmakers: on audiovisual media services, broadcasting and retransmission and copyright in the Digital Single Market, that now need to be implemented.

Next, we will follow which ‘spitzenkandidat’ will become President of the European Commission, if approved by the European Council (heads of national governments and states). On 2 July, the 751 new Members of the European Parliament will participate in their first plenary session and elect the President and Vice-Presidents of the Parliament. At their second plenary session they will constitute the different Committees. Particularly interesting for the SAA, will be to monitor the formation of the Committees on culture, industry, internal market and legal affairs; who will be the Chairs and who will express an interest in certain culture and copyright matters. We will then look forward to being in touch with MEPs to present the SAA and our members!