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Brussels, 23 November 200013437/00 (Presse 442)

2311th Council meeting CULTURAL/AUDIOVISUAL AFFAIRS Brussels, 23 November 2000

President: Ms Catherine TASCA

Minister for Culture and Communication of the French Republic






For further information call 02 285 62 19; 02 285 81 11


The Governments of the Member States and the European Commission were represented as follows:

Belgium :

Mr Richard MILLER

Mr Jean-Louis SIX

Minister for the Arts and for the Audiovisual Sector (French Community)

Deputy Permanent Representative

Denmark :


Minister for Culture

State Secretary for Culture

Germany :
Mr Jochen GRÜNHAGEDeputy Permanent Representative
Greece :
Mr Tilemachos CHYTIRISState Secretary for the Press and the Mass Media
Spain :


Minister for Education, Culture and Sport

State Secretary for Telecommunications and the Information Society

France :
Ms Catherine TASCAMinister for Culture and Communication
Ireland :
Ms Sile de VALERAMinister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands
Italy :
Mr Vincenzo Maria VITA

Mr Carlo CARLI

State Secretary for Communications

State Secretary for Cultural Assets and Activities

Luxembourg :
Mr François BILTGEN


Minister for Labour and Employment: Minister for relations with the Parliament; Minister for Religion; and Minister with responsibility for Communications

Minister for Culture, Higher Education and Research, Minister for Public Works

Netherlands :
Mr Rick van der PLOEGMinister for Education, Cultural Affairs and Science
Austria :
Mr Franz MORAKState Secretary, Federal Chancellery
Portugal :
Mr Jose SASPORTESMinister for Culture
Finland :
Ms Suvi LINDENMinister for Culture
Sweden :
Ms Marita ULVSKOGMinister for Culture
United Kingdom :
Mr Alan HOWARTHParliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Minister for the Arts)
Commission :
Ms Viviane REDINGMember

The Council reached agreement on the two Decisions making up the MEDIA Plus programme:

  • by adopting its common position on the Decision on the implementation of a training programme for professionals in the European audiovisual programme industry (MEDIA Training) the Decision will now be forwarded to the European Parliament for its second reading and

  • by giving its political agreement to the Decision on the implementation of a programme to encourage the development, distribution and promotion of European audiovisual works (MEDIA Plus Development, Distribution and Promotion). The Decision will be formally adopted at a forthcoming meeting of the Council, following finalisation of the text.

The Council has thus paved the way for MEDIA Plus to come into effect at the beginning of 2001, in time to take over from the current programme for support for the film and audiovisual industry, MEDIA II, which expires at the end of 2000.

The Council reached agreement on a total budget of EUR 400 million, of which EUR 350 million is for the "Development, Distribution and Promotion" section and EUR 50 million for the "Training" section.

The annex to the "MEDIA Plus Development, Distribution and Promotion" Decision gives the following breakdown for the distribution of financial resources between its various parts:

    Development:  at least 20%

    Distribution:  at least 57,5%

    Promotion:   approximately 8,5%

    Pilot projects:  approximately 5%

    Horizontal costs:  approximately 9%

These percentages are indicative and flexible, and are subject to change by the programme committee according to requirements.

The Commission also gave assurances on the evaluation of the MEDIA II programme, on the resources available to MEDIA Desks and Antennae in the Member States, and on the possibility of redirecting reimbursement principally to the sectors which generated the revenue.

Contents and objectives of MEDIA Plus:

MEDIA Plus will be the new Community programme in support of the European audiovisual industry. It was preceded by MEDIA I (1991-1995) and MEDIA II (1996-2000). MEDIA Plus should come into force at the beginning of 2001 and will cover the period from 2001 to 2005.

Its new features are essentially the improvement in the financing of packages of projects in the field of distribution, promoting market structures, and the support given to pilot projects in the new technologies.

MEDIA Plus Development is intended to strengthen the European audiovisual industry through a three-fold approach, supporting the development, distribution and promotion of European audiovisual works within and outside the Community.

Its overall objectives may be summarised as follows:

     an improvement in the competitiveness of the European audiovisual sector including small and medium-sized undertakings on the European and international markets, by supporting the development, distribution and promotion of European audiovisual works, taking due account of the development of new technologies;

     strengthening the sectors which help improve the transnational movement of European works;

 respect for and promotion of linguistic and cultural diversity in Europe;

     enhancing the European audiovisual heritage, in particular by digitisation and networking;

 development of the audiovisual sector in countries or regions with a low capacity for audiovisual production and/or a restricted geographical and linguistic area and strengthening networking and transnational cooperation between small and medium-sized undertakings;

     the dissemination of new types of audiovisual content using new technologies.

The specific objectives of each of the three areas of action (development, distribution and promotion) are as follows:

 As regards development:

    = to promote the development of production projects (dramas for cinema or television, creative documentaries, animated films for television or cinema, works exploiting the audiovisual and cinematographic heritage) submitted by independent companies, especially small and medium-sized;

= to promote the development of production projects that make use of new creation, production and dissemination technologies.

 As regards distribution and dissemination:

    to strengthen the European distribution sector in the field of cinema by encouraging distributors to invest in the production, acquisition, marketing and promotion of distribution rights and promotion of non-domestic European cinema films;

    to foster the wider transnational dissemination of non-domestic European films on the European and international markets through initiatives to stimulate their distribution and their screening in cinemas, inter alia by encouraging coordinated marketing strategies;

    to strengthen the distribution sector for European works on media intended for private use, by encouraging distributors to invest in digital technology and in the promotion of non-domestic European works;

    to promote the movement, in the Community and outside it, of European television programmes produced by independent companies by encouraging cooperation between broadcasters and independent European distributors and producers;

    to encourage the creation of catalogues of European works in digital format intended for exploitation on new media;

      to support the linguistic diversity of European audiovisual and cinematographic works.

 As regards promotion and market access:

    facilitate and encourage the promotion and movement of European audiovisual and cinematographic works at trade shows, fairs and audiovisual festivals in Europe and around the globe;

      = encourage the networking of European operators, by supporting joint activities on the European and international markets by national public or private promotion bodies.

Pilot projects will be established throughout the duration of the programme, aimed at improving access to audiovisual content and taking advantage of opportunities arising from the development and introduction of new technologies.

Beneficiaries of Community support must provide a substantial proportion of funding, with Community funding not exceeding 50% of the cost of operations. In cases expressly provided for, this proportion may rise to 60%. Financial support will be granted in the form of conditionally repayable advances, or subsidies.

MEDIA Training is intended to give professionals in the audiovisual programme industry, mainly through continuous vocational training, the necessary skills to allow them to take full advantage of the use of new technologies, so that they are able to create products which are competitive on the European and international markets.

Its objectives may be summarised as follows:

 the training of professionals in the audiovisual sector in the fields of:

    the application of new technologies, and in particular digital technologies and transmission, for the production and distribution of audiovisual programmes with a high commercial and artistic added value;

    = economic, financial and commercial management, including the legal framework and the techniques for the financing, production and distribution of audiovisual programmes;

    = script-writing techniques and storytelling including techniques for the development of new audiovisual programme types.

Within this objective, particular attention will be paid to the opportunities for distance learning. Also, cooperation between various players in the audiovisual industry (script-writers, directors and producers) will be encouraged.

     to encourage cooperation and the exchange of know-how and best practice through networking between the partners responsible, training establishments, the professional sector and undertakings, as well as through the provision of training for trainers.

In realising these aims, particular attention will be paid to the specific needs of countries or regions with a low production capacity and/or a restricted linguistic or geographical area.

Community funding may be up to 50% of the cost of operations. In cases expressly provided for, for training activities in countries or regions with a low audiovisual production capacity and/or a restricted geographical or linguistic area, this percentage may be increased to 60%.


The Presidency briefed the Council on work since the symposium held in Lille on 20 July 2000 on the future of public broadcasting, a debate which continued at the informal meeting of Ministers for cultural and audiovisual affairs which took place, also in Lille, on 20 and 21 July. These discussions were held in order to consider ways of increasing legal security for Member States and for broadcasters, and dealt particularly with questions relating to the specific mission of public broadcasting, the role of public channels in the information society, and the subject of mixed funding (funding from the public sector and from advertising).

The Commission reported on the progress it had made in this field. Commissioner REDING mentioned the communication on services of general interest which the Commission had submitted on 29 September 2000, in which a specific section was devoted to radio and television. This communication made particular mention of the support given by the Commission to the dual system of broadcasting, private and public, reaffirmed the freedom of the Member States to define public service tasks and stressed that the choice of means of funding was the responsibility of the Member States, provided it did not affect competition within the internal market.

The Commissioner pointed out that the Commission would complete its examination of complaints filed concerning the funding of public broadcasting channels within the coming months, and that to this end the various departments responsible within the Commission were consulting closely with one another. She also commented that the Commission would continue its work with the aim of establishing stable legal guidelines on the subject.

The President concluded that delegations' contributions had demonstrated their attachment to public broadcasting, to recognition of its specific nature and the need for clarification of the legal framework applicable.


"The Council of the European Union,

    1. RECALLING that the Community takes cultural aspects into account in its action under other Treaty provisions in order, in particular, to respect and promote the diversity of its cultures,

    2. RECALLING that aid to promote culture and heritage conservation may, where it does not affect trading conditions and competition in the Community to an extent that is contrary to the common interest, be regarded as compatible with the common market,

3. RECALLING the powers of the Commission under Article 88 of the Treaty,

    4. RECALLING Protocol 7 on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality annexed to the Treaty,

    5. EMPHASISING that the mandate given to the Commission at the meeting of the General Affairs Council on 26 October 1999 stipulates that "during the forthcoming WTO negotiations the Union will ensure, as in the Uruguay Round, that the Community and its Member States maintain the right to preserve and to develop their capacity to define and implement their cultural and audiovisual policies for the purpose of preserving their cultural diversity",

    6. RECALLING the decisions of the Commission concerning several national aid mechanisms for the film and audiovisual industries,

    7. RECALLING the Commission communication of 14 December 1999 on principles and guidelines for the Community's audiovisual policy in the digital age (1), and noting the Commission's intention to present a communication on the film industry in which it will set out general guidelines for the application of State aid to this sector,

    8. REFERRING to the symposium on European cultural industries in the digital age, organised in Lyons on 11 and 12 September 2000, during which participants emphasised the need for the Member States to maintain and implement national arrangements to support cultural industries,

    9. RECALLING the discussions on the question of national aid at the meeting of the Council of Ministers for Culture on 26 September 2000,

10. EMPHASISES that, as the Commission has acknowledged:

     the audiovisual industry is a cultural industry par excellence,

       national aid to the film and audiovisual industries is one of the chief means of ensuring cultural diversity,

       the objective of cultural diversity presupposes an industrial fabric necessary to satisfy that objective and justifies the special nature of national aid to the film and audiovisual industries, adapted to the specific circumstances in question,

       these statements are particularly true in the case of the development of the audiovisual industry in countries or regions where production capacity is low and/or the linguistic or geographical area is limited,

       the European film and audiovisual sector is suffering from structural weaknesses, including under-capitalisation of undertakings, fragmentation of national markets, which are dominated by non-European productions, and poor transnational circulation of European works; the national and European support systems for this sector have a complementary and essential role to play in solving these problems,

11. REAFFIRMS, in consequence and in the light of the above, that:

     the Member States are justified in conducting national policies to support the creation of film and audiovisual products,

     national aid to the film and audiovisual industries may contribute to the emergence of a European audiovisual market,

     appropriate means of increasing legal certainty for these arrangements for preserving and promoting cultural diversity should be examined,

     the dialogue between the Commission and the Member States should therefore be continued.

12. ASKS the Commission to submit its thoughts on this subject to the Council as soon as possible and in any case no later than the end of 2001."


The Council took note of a Presidency briefing on two symposia which it had organised with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and with the EUROMED countries, in Prague on 5 and 6 October 2000 and in Rabat from 14 to 16 October 2000.


"The Council of the European Union,

    Recalling that the Community should take cultural aspects into account in its actions, in particular in order to respect and to promote the diversity of its culture;

    Recalling that in its Decision of 21 August 1997 and later in its Resolution of 8 February 1999, echoed by the Cologne European Council on 3 and 4 June 1999, the Community recognised the dual character of books as the bearers of cultural values and as merchandise, and the need for a balanced assessment of the cultural and economic aspects of books;

    Recalling the freedom of each Member State, in its policy on books and reading, to decide whether or not to apply a national statutory or contractual book-price system;

    Considering the attachment of several Member States to national fixed-price systems for books, as a way of taking into account the specific cultural and economic character of books and of giving readers access, under optimum conditions, to the widest possible supply;

    Recalling the Commission 's Decisions and the positions it has taken on this subject, and in particular the letter of 12 November 1998 from the Members of the Commission responsible for culture and competition to the Ministers responsible for cultural affairs;

    Taking note of the proceedings of the Conference on the Book Market in the European Cultural Area held in Strasbourg on 29 and 30 September 2000, which helped to delve deeper into the singular nature of books, developments in their distribution, ways of regulating book markets and the impact of digital technology on their economic aspects;

    7. Reaffirms that homogeneous linguistic areas are an important area for distributing books and add a cross-border dimension to the book market, which needs to be taken into account;

    8. Considers that the emergence of e-commerce, changing the legal and economic landscape of the book sector, may extend the dissemination of books but may also affect inter alia existing national fixed book-price systems;

    9. Considers that, under these circumstances, achieving the cultural objectives pursued by the existing national fixed book-price systems requires account to be taken of the cross-border dimension of certain book markets, in accordance with Community law,

Calls on the Commission:

    (i) when applying competition rules and rules on the free movement of goods, to take account of the specific value of the book as a cultural object and the importance of books in promoting cultural diversity, and of the cross-border dimension of the book market,

    (ii) when examining national rules and agreements on fixed book prices, insofar as they affect trade between the Member States, to pay particular attention to:

     the risk of the development of evasion,

     the consequences of the development of e-commerce,

     questions relating to imports between countries practising fixed book-price systems."



Desirous of improving the quality of the day-to-day environment in the life of European citizens,


    1. Recalling the objectives assigned to the European Community under Article 151 of the Treaty;

    2. Recalling Council Directive 85/384/EEC of 10 June 1985, which states in particular that "architecture, the quality of buildings, the way in which they blend in with their surroundings, respect for the natural and urban environment and the collective and individual cultural heritage are matters of public concern";

    3. Recalling the conclusions of 10 November 1994 on the Commission communication concerning European Community action to promote culture;

    4. Recalling the Council conclusions of 21 June 1994 on the cultural and artistic aspects of education (94/C 229/01);

    5. Recalling the Council Resolution of 4 April 1995 on culture and the multimedia (95/C 247/01);

    6. Recalling the Council conclusions of 17 December 1999 on the culture industries and employment in Europe;

    6a. Taking note of the Presidency conclusions of the informal meeting of Environment Ministers in Oporto on 15 and 16 April 2000, which emphasise the importance of the quality of built-up areas;

7. Noting the holding on 10 and 11 July 2000 of a European Architectural Policies Forum which brought together representatives of the professions and authorities in charge of architectural matters in the fifteen Member States;

    8. Welcoming the Community and intergovernmental discussions which have taken place for a number of years on architectural heritage and the built, spatial and social environment, and more especially:

       the 5th Research and Development Framework Programme (RDFP) which, for the first time, incorporates a "key action" on the theme of "the city of tomorrow and cultural heritage" and addresses the issue of establishing a good quality building environment;

       the "Framework for action: sustainable urban development in the European Union" submitted by the Commission (2), which includes the preservation and improvement of building quality as an objective of the European Union;

     the European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP), which evokes the concept of "creative management of the architectural heritage", including contemporary architecture, in an approach to preserving the cultural and architectural heritage;

Hereby affirms that:

     architecture is a fundamental feature of the history, culture and fabric of life of each of our countries, that it represents an essential means of artistic expression in the daily life of citizens and that it constitutes the heritage of tomorrow;

     architectural quality is a constituent part of both the rural and urban environment;

     the cultural dimension and the quality of the physical treatment of space should be taken into account in Community regional and cohesion policies;

     architecture is an intellectual, cultural, artistic and professional activity. Architectural service therefore is a professional service which is both cultural and economic.

Hereby expresses its attachment to:

     the common characteristics shared by European towns and cities, such as the importance of historical continuity, the quality of public areas, the social mix and the richness of urban diversity;

     the fact that good quality architecture, by improving the living context and the relationship between citizens and their environment, whether rural or urban, can contribute effectively towards social cohesion and job creation, the promotion of cultural tourism and regional economic development;



Hereby encourages the Member States to:

     intensify their efforts to improve the knowledge and promotion of architecture and urban design, and to make contracting authorities and the general public more aware of and better trained in appreciation of architectural, urban and landscape culture;

     take into account the specific nature of architectural service in the decisions and measures which require it;

     promote architectural quality by means of exemplary public building policies;

     foster the exchange of information and experience in the field of architecture.



Calls on the Commission to:

     ensure that architectural quality and the specific nature of architectural service are taken into consideration in all its policies, measures and programmes;

     seek, in consultation with the Member States and in accordance with the rules governing the Structural Funds, ways and means of ensuring in the application of those Funds a wider consideration of architectural quality and the conservation of cultural heritage;

 in the context of existing programmes:

     foster measures to promote, disseminate and raise awareness of architectural and urban cultures with due respect for cultural diversity; 

     facilitate cooperation and networking between institutions devoted to upgrading cultural heritage and architecture, and support incipient European-scale events;

     encourage, in particular, the training and mobility of students and professionals and thus promote the dissemination of good practice;

 keep the Council informed of the implementation of such measures."


The Council took note of a Presidency report on the follow-up to the cultural aspects of the e-Europe Action Plan. The Action Plan was designed to facilitate access for as many European citizens as possible to global networks, notably to their content relating to culture and heritage.

Follow-up to the cultural aspects of the e-Europe initiative involved the three following elements:

     stimulating the development and use of European digital content on global networks, particularly by swift adoption of the e-Content multiannual Community programme (examined by the Telecommunications Council), which aimed to capitalise on European linguistic and cultural diversity by translating content into several languages;

     encouraging access to digitised cultural heritage for educational purposes, in the context of the initiative entitled "e-Learning Designing tomorrow's education";

     establishing a mechanism to coordinate national digitisation programmes by defining common themes, analysing available resources and identifying technical and linguistic means of ensuring the interoperability of programmes.

The President pointed out that the Internal Market Council was coordinating the follow-up and implementation of the Action Plan, and that other relevant formations of the Council would ensure detailed monitoring in their respective spheres of competence. The Presidency would make a general progress report on implementation of the e-Europe Action Plan at the Internal Market Council on 30 November with a view to its adoption at the Nice European Council.

The e-Europe Action Plan 2002 An Information Society for All was adopted at the Feira European Council in June 2000. It aims to accelerate the dissemination of digital technologies across Europe and to ensure that all Europeans have the necessary skills to use them.


The Council adopted a Decision on the official appointment of two members of the selection panel nominated by the Council in the context of the "European Capital of Culture" Community action, pursuant to Decision 2000/C/9/1 on the appointment of members of the selection panel. The members are Mr António MEGA FERREIRA, the former steward of Expo 98, and Mr Bernard FAIVRE d'ARCIER, currently Artistic Director of the Avignon Festival. They were proposed as candidates by Portugal and France at the meeting of the Cultural/Audiovisual Affairs Council on 16 May 2000.

Commissioner REDING also announced the names of the two members of the selection panel whom she proposed that the Commission should appoint. These are Ms Tuula ARKIO from Finland, who is currently the director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki, and Mr Robert PALMER from Britain, currently in charge of "Brussels 2000".

In accordance with Article 2 of the Decision establishing the "European Capital of Culture" for the years 2005 to 2019 (Decision 1419/1999/EC), a selection panel of seven leading independent figures will be invited to draw up a report on cities' bids. The panel will be made up of two experts appointed by the European Parliament, two by the Council, two by the Commission and one by the Committee of the Regions.



    The Council took note of a statement by the French delegation, supported by some other delegations, on the reform of the legal framework for the telecommunications sector and its consequences for the audiovisual sector. The aim was to highlight the fears of the audiovisual sector as to the potential effects of separating the regulatory framework for infrastructures from that for content, particularly as regards access to broadcasting frequencies.

Five draft Directives on electronic communications and a Decision on frequencies which reform the regulatory framework for telecommunications are currently being studied by the Telecommunications Council.


Over lunch, Ministers held an exchange of views with the Commission on the implementation of the Culture 2000 programme, particularly as regards the participation of the applicant countries in this programme.


    The Council was informed by the Portuguese and Netherlands delegations of the events planned to take place in Porto on 13 January 2001 and in Rotterdam on 12 December 2001; these two cities have been designated as European capitals of culture for 2001.


(Acts in respect of which statements for the Council minutes have been made available to the public are indicated by asterisks; the statements in question may be obtained from the Press Office.)


Textiles People's Republic of China

The Council adopted a Decision on the signing, on behalf of the European Community, of the Agreement in the form of an exchange of letters between the European Community and the People's Republic of China initialled in Beijing on 19May 2000 amending the Agreement between them on trade in textile products and amending the Agreement between them initialled on 19 January 1995 on trade in textile products not covered by the MFA bilateral Agreement, and authorising its provisional application.

In accordance with directives approved by the Council on 8 November 1999, the Commission and the People's Republic of China initialled on 6 December 1999 an agreement in the form of an exchange of letters designed to ensure trade stability for the year 2000 (3), while providing for further negotiations on the terms for future trade in the sector.

Following further negotiations in parallel with the negotiations between the Community and China concerning the terms of China's accession to the World Trade Organisation, the Commission and the People's Republic of China initialled an Agreement in the form of an exchange of letters on 19 May 2000. This bilateral textiles agreement forms part of the overall WTO package.

(1) OJ ….. (COM (1999) 657).

(2) [COM (98) 605 final].

(3) O.J. L 345, 31.12.1999, p. 1

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