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Developments and Opportunities in the European Parliament and Commission

09 October 2019

The start of the 2019 fall semester was an exciting, challenging and most of all a very busy time for the European Parliament and the European Commission. ELIA has been tracking all developments related to culture and education policy and funding, in order to best foresee new opportunities and possible challenges for higher arts education in the coming legislative period.
The newly elected CULT Committee, chaired by Sabine Verheyen (EPP, Germany) has been tackling important topics since the end of summer recess in September. One of the priorities of the committee has been to work on a favorable agreement with the European Council regarding the funding of education and culture.
Last week the committee also heard and questioned the Commissioner-designate for Youth and Innovation, Mariya Gabriel, and Commissioner-designate for Protecting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas. These hearings by the Parliament’s committees are taking place in preparation for the vote (23 October) on the new European Commission. President-elect of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen proposed the new commissioner portfolios at the beginning of September.
Von der Leyen’s nomination of a Commissioner for Innovation and Youth, who will be in charge of both ‘education, research and innovation’ and ‘culture, youth and sport’ (mission letter), sparked critical reactions in the cultural sector. The main criticism to this overarching commissioner post is the lack of the word ‘culture’ in the title. The current title was said to understate the value of culture to the European Union.
Culture Action Europe started a public campaign urging Von der Leyen to ‘bring back culture’. The campaign primarily calls for transforming the title into ‘Innovation, Youth and Culture’. The reaction to the nomination from KEA European Affairs – an international policy design research center – focused instead on the opportunity that the new portfolio offers: a transversal European policy, which integrates culture in the main discussions happening on EU-level (for instance regarding digitality, research, and the internal market).
In response to CULT’s questions at the hearing on 30 September, Gabriel acknowledged the value of culture and emphasized the importance of creating synergies within the broad Innovation and Youth portfolio. She also expressed her strong motivation in working towards a European Education Area (a European ambition since the Gothenburg summit in 2017), strengthening the European Research Area and in tripling the Erasmus+ budget.

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