Visual arts
Public debate
Arts & Crafts
French language
Graphic novel
Digital creation
Street Arts / Circus / Puppetry

Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner (2/2)

Our ambition is to help the cultural sectors to emerge from the crisis,(...) to help artists, creators, cultural professionals and organisations to create and find audiences across borders.

On 1 January 2022, France took over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union for six months. In this second part of the interview, Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, speaks about the Creative Europe programme, support for the media and the fight against disinformation as well as the role of cultural and creative industries in the "European Green Deal" and actions in favour of European youth.

Read the first part of the interview. 

Updated on 09/05/2022

10 min

Mariya Gabriel 2
© DR

Creative Europe is more than ever a flagship programme for the development of culture and relations between artists and cultural stakeholders in Europe. The 2021-2027 programme has been significantly augmented compared to the previous period. What are the objectives? And what message would you give to encourage artists and cultural stakeholders to take advantage of the programme?

As you know, European cultural and linguistic diversity is a strength for Europe but it is not always easily accessible to all Europeans: European artists and cultural creations need support to co-create and travel outside national boundaries. In addition, the Covid crisis has had a strong impact on the cultural and creative sectors.

It is to respond to these specific challenges that the "Creative Europe" programme, which supports the cultural and creative sectors in Europe, has seen its budget increased to €2.4 billion over 7 years (2021-27). Our ambition is to help the cultural sectors to emerge from the crisis, to strengthen their long-term resilience and, in concrete terms, to help artists, creators, cultural professionals and organisations to create and find audiences across borders.

To this end, the Creative Europe programme co-finances hundreds of cooperative projects between European cultural organisations. And I am happy to say that French organisations are among the most active in this field: they have launched many European cultural partnerships and implemented high quality projects.

For artists - young and old - specific mechanisms have been put in place to boost their international careers.

For example, we support prestigious awards in the field of music, architecture, literature and cultural heritage. These awards give recognition and visibility to emerging talent on the European scene.

We have also selected 16 European platforms for the promotion of European artists. These platforms bring together over 300 European organisations and are responsible for identifying and promoting young talent abroad.

We also fund European orchestras, such as the European Union Youth Orchestra, which bring together some of the most talented young musicians from EU Member States.

In addition, we want to give artists and professionals the opportunity to run their own projects and receive grants to cover their travel costs. The i-Portunus pilot programme, which supports the mobility of artists and cultural professionals, has exceeded expectations. We have therefore decided to considerably strengthen this 'Erasmus for the cultural world' by increasing its budget sevenfold over the next few years.

Promoting diversity is not just about taking artists and artworks across borders. All EU-funded projects must be inclusive and open: the profile of the artists, the themes, the works and, of course, the audiences participating in our projects must reflect the growing diversity of our European societies. I must say that we have made real progress in this area in recent years: we are seeing more and more projects that strengthen gender equality or promote social links and the active integration of all parts of our societies.

Finally, our future also lies with a greener Europe and artists and the cultural sector have a role to play: we encourage them to innovate, to offer greener practices and to contribute, through their talent and their creations, to the European Green Deal.

The cultural and creative industries have an important role in the European Green Deal. They carry strong messages with which the general public identifies.

What role can the European Green Deal play in the idea of reviving and boosting the cultural and creative industries in Europe? Can you tell us about the New European Bauhaus? How can the cultural and creative sectors be part of the dynamic / contribute to the initiative? 

Climate change is undoubtedly the greatest challenge the world will face this century. To address this challenge, the European Commission has launched the European Green Deal, which aims to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. The European Green Deal will transform the EU into a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy. In this respect, it is important to remember that the cultural and creative sectors and industries are highly innovative and inherent drivers of economic and social innovation in many other sectors.

The cultural and creative industries have an important role in the European Green Deal. They carry strong messages with which the general public identifies. They also embody innovation at its finest and can play a role as a catalyst for ecological discourse in the European cultural and political debate.

This is why my ambition is to facilitate the establishment of a European innovation ecosystem focused on culture and creativity, centred on cultural and creative industries. Such a system should make a decisive contribution to Europe's prosperity, well-being, social and cultural cohesion and environmental sustainability. 

For the first time, with Horizon Europe, we have a dedicated culture and creativity cluster worth over €2 billion. It can fully exploit the potential of the creative sectors. It will be complemented by the new Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC) of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), which will support innovation ecosystems in the cultural and creative sectors. The call for proposals remains open until 24 March. I invite artists, creators, all those interested, to submit their applications and help shape the future of the Culture and Creativity KIC.

Only culture has the power to reach out to all, making the green deal a societal and cultural project. The cultural sector can also play a crucial driving role in raising awareness of the need for change and in motivating and empowering citizens to contribute on a personal level.

The European project that embodies this link between the cultural and creative industries and the European Green Deal is the New European Bauhaus (NEB).

The New European Bauhaus is a creative and interdisciplinary initiative that gives a cultural and creative dimension to the European Green Deal, which calls for a collective effort to imagine and build a sustainable, inclusive and enriching future. The Communication on the New European Bauhaus, which we adopted in September 2021, builds on more than 2,000 contributions received in the co-creation phase, more than 40% of which came from the culture and education sectors.

The Communication presents a rich diversity of strategic actions and a set of financial opportunities, such as the establishment of the New European Bauhaus Lab, the New European Bauhaus Festival, which will take place in June 2022, and the mobilisation of several programmes with a budget of around €85 billion for the period 2021-2022, with calls targeting the innovation, culture and creative sectors.

On 18 January, we launched the New European Bauhaus Awards. Applications are open until 28 February. We have many examples that demonstrate that by joining forces in the fields of arts, culture, education and innovation, we can build sustainable and inclusive environments for us all.

I will give you an example with my key initiative - the Climate Education Coalition, which will enable us to capture and bring together climate friendly projects and ideas. Working closely with the New European Bauhaus, in February the Climate Education Coalition will launch a joint call for expressions of interest for places of education and knowledge - from public libraries to schools and universities, to develop their own projects to co-create concrete educational actions in the spirit of the New European Bauhaus to sustain our planet.

We are also creating synergies with the 'Erasmus+' programme. The 'European Youth Together' call mobilises youth organisations to create transnational partnerships contributing to the New European Bauhaus and the Green Deal through their activities.

In the audiovisual sector, it aims to introduce European criteria to reduce the environmental impact of the production of audiovisual works. In consultation with the industry, the Commission has launched a debate on the different methods of calculating the carbon footprint of audiovisual production in order to reach an agreement on existing data and practices in Europe.

Among other activities, the Institut français has initiated the European Film Factory project for the education of young people in film. The project, developed in partnership with ARTE and European School Network, is supported by the Creative Europe MEDIA programme (2014-2020). The project focuses on 10 films from 10 European countries, and includes educational material in the language of the countries from which the films originate.

As our cultural and creative professionals develop skills and share knowledge, they strengthen our communities and sow the seeds of a new generation committed to the preservation of our heritage. 

Horizon Europe embraces research and innovation in order to achieve the European Union's strategic priorities.

Horizon Europe is another EU framework programme, in this case encompassing research and innovation. It includes a strand on "Culture, creativity and inclusive society". For what purpose? 

Horizon Europe embraces research and innovation in order to achieve the European Union's strategic priorities, which are ultimately to promote peace, the values of the Union and the well-being of us all. This framework programme works to dismantle barriers, and increase synergies, between science, technology, culture and the arts, in order to achieve a new quality of sustainable innovation. The "Culture, Creativity and Inclusive Society" strand thus has its place within this framework programme and its aim is to mobilise multidisciplinary expertise in the European social sciences and humanities in order to understand the fundamental changes taking place in the fields of society, economy, politics and culture. More concretely, the strand aims to improve democratic governance and citizen participation, safeguard and promote cultural heritage and respond to social, economic, technological and cultural transformations. It is also the first time that a focus on cultural heritage and cultural and creative industries has been included in the "Culture, creativity and inclusive society" strand. 

In addition to the Culture, Creativity and Inclusive Society strand, the Commission also supports the cultural and creative sectors under Pillar III through the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). The EIT has launched a call for proposals for the creation of a new Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC), specifically in the fields of culture and creativity. This new KIC will be designated in June. The main objective of this KIC is to boost the innovation capacity of these sectors by focusing on supporting innovators and start-ups. This will be achieved by reducing the fragmentation of the innovation landscape in these sectors by promoting the creation of innovation ecosystems that will link stakeholders and networks at local, regional, national and European levels. This large-scale, high-budget initiative, which will bring together dozens of partners across Europe over a period of 7 to 15 years, will have a systemic impact on the sector and contribute to its transition towards a more flexible business model that will take advantage of digital technologies and their potential for growth and innovation. 

The role of media literacy and a diverse media ecosystem is a key aspect of the fight against disinformation.

An important part of the European Commission's action concerns support for the media - this is notably one of the strands of Creative Europe. How can we encourage the development of this sector, which is undergoing numerous structural upheavals? How can we also combat disinformation and promote information literacy among young people? 

Absolutely. In the cross-sectoral portion of Creative Europe, we will support the sector's adaptation to structural and technological changes in order to protect media pluralism, quality journalism and media literacy for citizens. The logic will be similar to that of other Creative Europe actions, with a focus on cross-border collaboration and sharing of best practice. The first results of a call for proposals for "journalism partnerships" are expected in March this year.

And you are right, there is a lot of upheaval, so these new actions need to be seen in a broader context. The media sector is facing great economic challenges and journalists are facing an increasing number of attacks. I think that at every level, local, national, regional and European governments need to act to create a more favourable context for quality journalism, to ensure that everyone has access to accurate information from many different perspectives. And information literacy must of course be a priority.

Since 2017, the Commission has been working to strengthen the capacity of our societies to understand, detect and counter the threats posed by disinformation.

We have adopted several initiatives that guide our ambitions, starting with the Action Plan against disinformation in 2018. We are also currently implementing the Action Plan for European Democracy adopted at the end of 2020.

Several aspects have already been the subject of legislative proposals and other initiatives to strengthen transparency and accountability obligations of platforms are ongoing.

For example, the Commission is currently facilitating work to strengthen the Code of Practice against disinformation.

Our expectations are clear. We have made them explicit in our May 2021 Guidance: we expect the signatories to the current Code, in particular the major online platforms, as well as additional stakeholders who have joined the process, to sign up to a robust Code with verifiable commitments.

In this respect, our proposal on Digital Services (DSA) also introduces game-changing obligations in terms of disinformation.

The role of media literacy and a diverse media ecosystem is a key aspect of the fight against disinformation. These are fundamental pillars of our resilience, which the Commission will continue to promote through various programmes and initiatives.

We fund many media literacy actions at national level, for example in cooperation with the European Digital Media Observatory (EDMO), and we work closely with Member States in the dedicated expert group.

For 2021-2027, the EU has increased funding for such actions under the Creative Europe programme. And as part of the Digital Education Action Plan, the Commission will develop by autumn 2022 common guidelines for teachers to combat misinformation.

Finally, media literacy is also enshrined in EU law. The revised Audiovisual Media Services Directive requires Member States to promote measures for the development of media literacy skills and requires video-sharing platforms to adopt such measures and tools.

Support for a diverse and quality media landscape includes project funding, but is complemented by other elements. Further initiatives will follow, such as protecting journalists and defenders of rights from abusive litigation (Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation - SLAPP), as well as increasing transparency, independence and accountability regarding actions affecting the control and freedom of the press (European Media Freedom Act). 

The Institut français and the FPEU

For the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union (FPEU), the Institut français is working towards the objectives defined by the government for this Presidency. The Institut français will therefore be implementing a series of cultural events and activities to promote European creativity. 

Find out more about the Institut français cultural programme for the FPEU 

Learn more about European cooperation at the Institut français 

L'institut français, LAB