Secretary General's June Digest, 2024

The sun has finally replaced the cold rain in Brussels, but the outcome of the European elections has contradicted this move towards a bright summer, especially in France. As a French citizen myself, I must admit I am looking for the silver linings right now…  The results of the first round of the French general elections yesterday confirmed the high level of uncertainty on the future government of the second largest economy of the EU.

Before I go into the elections’ results, let me warmly welcome Romas Zabarauskas as our newest SAA Patron! Romas is a Lithuanian screenwriter and director, a country from which we have not previously had a representative on the Board of Patrons. Thank you to our Lithuanian member LATGA for having connected us!

European elections’ results

Here are the latest results: a participation of 51,06% (compared to 50.66% in 2019), which hide wides disparities (from 21,35% in Croatia to 89.01% in Belgium where voting is compulsory). The far right won the most seats, Renew (mainly due to the shift of votes in France) and the Greens lost the most. The biggest political force, EPP, won seats while S&D and the Left have been stable. What we don’t know yet is whether the far right will organise itself better to gain weight in the structures of the European Parliament. MEPs are currently divided in ECR and ID groups while some are non-attached. Moves are underway, including attempts to create a new far-right group.

What we do know however is that sadly only 11 out of 28 members of the Cultural Creators Friendship Group were re-elected. Despite the efforts of its Secretary General, Benjamin Feyen, and the commitment of two of the re-elected founding members of the CCFG (Laurence Farreng, FR/RE and Hannes Heide, AT/S&D), it might take time for this group to re-establish itself. They will need to convince newly elected and re-elected MEPs to join. This reflects quite well our situation as a representative organisation of creators: we will have to make a lot of effort to reach out to re-elected and new MEPs to introduce them to our issues so that we can create a new group of MEPs who will be active and committed allies for culture and authors' rights.

We have started to look at the list of MEPs per country, with the help of our trainees. With the additional insight of the SAA members, we will identify the priority MEPs to contact and meet. Annica and I will go to Strasbourg for the first plenary meeting on 16-18 July. We are currently working on new material to present the SAA and our key messages to the MEPs.

While the Parliament is settling in (and before the Hungarian Presidency succeeded Belgium), on 27 June, the European Council (the Heads of States and governments of the EU) elected António Costa as President of the European Council to succeed to Charles Michel in December and agreed to propose Ursula von der Leyen to the European Parliament as candidate for President of the European Commission (and Kaja Kallas as High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy). After the vote by the Parliament of the President of the Commission (in July or September), the composition of the new Commission will be the next big thing to watch: Who will be the commissioner in charge of culture and audiovisual? Will these two portfolios continue to be divided or reunited? More on this next time.

The Commission is still working

In this period in between, the Commission is still working. In the audiovisual sector, the Commission is preparing the adoption of the 2025 work programme of Creative Europe with the Member States. With a group of professional organisations of the sector, at our initiative, we met last week with the unit responsible for the support to the audiovisual sector to foster a dialogue on the state of play of the film and audiovisual sector in Europe to prepare for the next challenges. This dialogue is not always easy as we might have different perspectives, but it is essential to talk on a regular basis, something the Commission has sometimes difficulties in understanding. We hope that this joint initiative by the organisations of authors, producers, distributors, etc. of the European audiovisual sector will bear fruit.

On the authors’ rights aspects, the SAA, its CMO members and authors were invited to respond to an EU-wide survey on contractual practices affecting the transfer of rights. The survey targeted authors and performers from all creative sectors and their representative professional organisations. The survey aimed to capture trends in contractual practices on the transfer of rights and to assess the impact of such practices on the rightholders.

Visit to Stockholm

Continuing our tradition of having SAA board members host our meetings, in June we went to Stockholm, kindly hosted by Copyswede for two intense days of meetings. First, we had an interesting meeting with the Swedish Ministry of Justice to discuss copyright, remuneration and AI. In the evening we enjoyed a guided tour of Fotografiska Stockholm (the Contemporary Museum of Photography, which I recommend if you visit the city!) followed by a dinner at the museum with a panoramic view of the city. The day after, the board meeting was spent at Copyswede's office.

We also organised online meetings of two of our working groups with the SAA members: on Private Copying on 4 June and on Equality and Diversity on 18 June.

Screening in Brussels

As part of a long-standing partnership between European associations, we have been promoting the diversity and beauty of European cinema to people working in the EU institutions. This time the SAA partnered on the screening of “La Ferme des Bertrand” by Gilles Perret, organised by EFAD and Europa International in the frame of the Brussels International Film Festival, on 27 June at Cinema Galeries. The film is a moving documentary that follows 50 years in the life of a farm in the French Alps. It was preceded by a short film “Plat de Resistance” by Marie Royer and Zinia Scorier. Based on audio recordings and poetic drawings, the animated film portrays activists who use food as a tool in their anti-consumerist struggle. As a cinema lover, I am always grateful to festival selection committees for inviting me to discover films and filmmakers I do not know, who will surprise me and take me to unexpected places.

I leave you on this positive note and wish you a lovely sunny summer wherever you are! ☀️

Best regards,


My 3 reading tips: