Christine Albanel, French minister for culture and communication, brought together her fellow EU ministers for an informal meeting in Versailles on July 21 and 22. She took the opportunity to discuss the four main goals she intends to pursue during France’s presidency to promote the cultural dimension of Europe’s collective existence:
According to a press release by the minister, the first day of the meeting focused on ways to better enhance knowledge of, and access to, European heritage, particularly for young people. One of the main issues discussed by the ministers of culture concerned the European Heritage Label project. This initiative, put forward by over a dozen Member States of the European Union in 2007, aims to enhance certain key sites and landmarks (monuments, natural and urban sites, and historically significant areas) of European heritage.
The ministers agreed to work within the Community bodies with a view to building an undertaking where all 27 Member States play a role a d European citizens gain a better understanding of their common European heritage. These efforts may also “help to promote economic development of the territories of the European Union and their appeal as a visitor destination.” Several ministers stressed the importance of making sites more accessible to youth.
Ministers for audiovisual affairs discussed the revision of the Community’s regulatory framework governing electronic communication (the Telecommunications Package). They underlined “the need to retain the balance between economic gain and public interest objectives such as media pluralism, cultural and linguistic diversity, and land use planning.” According to the press release, the ministers for audiovisual affairs “wished to draw the attention of their colleagues responsible for telecommunications and of the European and Commission delegates to these points and to the importance of considering the particularities and objectives of the audiovisual sector when revising the Telecommunications Package.
The ministers also raised the issue of digital world protection of copyright and related rights. They stressed the importance of “educating consumers about copyright relating to material made available online and about the consequences of piracy on creation and cultural diversity.” The press release further states that all representatives from the fields of cultural and communications “must come together to fight against piracy and develop a more attractive legal alternative for consumers.”
“The importance of the European public audiovisual service model was reiterated, as was the need to protect subsidies, which make it possible for member states to guarantee the means of developing public audiovisual services.”
In closing, the press release states that the ministers will meet again in Brussels on November 20, 2008 at the Education, Youth and Culture Council to adopt conclusions on points like the European Heritage Label and developing creative content online and protecting it from piracy.
For a complete account of the meeting of the Ministers for Culture and Audiovisual Affairs, please consult the article, file, and press release available on the French Ministry of Culture and Communication website.