Turning words into actions for European culture and authors

The pandemic crisis is best described as unpredictable. Its waves of COVID-19 infections left us insecure about the future. However, following the roll-out of vaccination, we can finally start to plan ahead. On the EU level, institutions are working on initiatives that could contribute to a more hopeful future for the cultural and creative sectors.

For audiovisual authors, some words have the potential to make a difference if put in practice.

The EU Ministers of Culture’s conclusions on the recovery, resilience and sustainability of the cultural and creative sectors (18 May), acknowledged the sector's “structural challenges” that the crisis has exposed. They pointed out that cultural professionals “are confronted with the challenge of securing sustainable sources of income, while very large online platforms have seen their traffic and revenues increase”. The Ministers encouraged the “exploration of new ways and means of securing artists’ income (and) discussing the status of artists”.

The Council also adopted conclusions on Europe’s media, commenting on the European Commission’s Media and Audiovisual Action Plan. The Ministers addressed the need to transform the audiovisual sector while ensuring its creative freedom and cultural diversity. Among the recommendations we find promoting “the sector’s competitiveness and fair remuneration”, its European content and cross-border collaboration in terms of production and distribution. It also highlights the promotion of European audiovisual works and the need to support the sector to reach new audience. Both conclusions referred to the importance of the Copyright, the SatCab and the Audiovisual Media Services directives to facilitate the sectors’ recovery, sustainability and resilience.

The European Parliament’s Cultural Committee is preparing a report on the situation of artists and its report on the Media and Audiovisual Action Plan, to be voted on after the summer. We trust the Parliament to stand behind creators and go further than the European Commission and the Cultural Ministers. After all, the Parliament was at the initiative of Article 18 of the Copyright Directive on fair and proportionate remuneration and the Cultural Creators Friendship Group have repeatedly urged Member States to effectively implement it.

We have shared our views that creators are at the source of Europe’s cultural diversity and deserve more attention with the Ministers, the European Commission and the Parliament’s rapporteurs and shadow rapporteurs. The many testimonies shared by SAA’s Patrons on their working conditions, challenges and fears, prove that not enough attention is paid to making fair remuneration a reality for audiovisual authors in Europe. Placing the implementation of Article 18 of the Copyright directive at the core of the Media and Audiovisual Action Plan would empower and strengthen audiovisual authors. Receiving royalties for the exploitation of their works on the different types of media, including online, would enable them to dedicate more time to their projects and enhance the quality of European production and the sustainability of their careers, thus the sustainability of the industry. In other words, a win-win solution.

An unwaivable right to remuneration paid by users (e.g. VOD platforms) and collectively managed is the way to go about, as confirmed by several legal experts at SAA’s seminar.

Additionally, the effective implementation of Article 13 of the Audiovisual Media Services directive on quotas and financial investment in European works will also bring benefits such as enhancing access to and availability and visibility of the diversity of European works. Another good way to support creators is the Preparatory Action of the European Parliament, “Writing European”, that aims at empowering authors from different countries directly by financially supporting their creative process for future European co-production. 

The SAA continues to monitor the development to ensure that the EU institutions’ promising words are put into tangible actions for Europe’s culture and authors.