Brussels, 17 November 1998
12744/98 (Presse 382)
2134th Council meeting
Brussels, 17 November 1998
State Secretary, Federal Chancellery of the Republic of Austria
LIST OF CONTENTS
The Governments of the Member States and the European Commission were represented as follows:
EXTENSION OF THE ARIANE AND KALEIDOSCOPE PROGRAMMES IN 1999
The Council reached unanimous political agreement on the prolongation of the ARIANE and KALEIDOSCOPE programmes in 1999 with a total budgetary allocation of 14,3 MECUS, divided into 10,2 MECUS for KALEIDOSCOPE and 4,1 MECUS for ARIANE. After adoption by the Committee of the Regions of its opinion on the matter, the common positions reflecting today's agreement will be adopted without debate at another Council meeting. This will, in turn, allow the Council to amend accordingly the draft budget of the Community for 1999 during the "Budget" Council of 24 November. The prolongation decisions fall under the co-decision procedure. The European Parliament, in its first reading, has already voted the amounts now agreed by the Council.
The prolongation, for one year, of the above-mentioned programmes will bridge the gap between their current expiry date (31.12.1998) and the planned start of the new framework programme in the area of culture (1.1.2000).
It is recalled that ARIANE is a support programme, in the field of books and reading (including translation), and KALEIDOSCOPE a programme to support artistic and cultural activities having a European dimension.
COMMUNITY FRAMEWORK PROGRAMME IN SUPPORT OF CULTURE - Proposal for a Decision
After long and difficult discussions, the Council reached unanimous political agreement, ad referendum, on its common position regarding the proposal for a single financing and programming instrument for cultural co-operation, the "Culture 2000 programme". The common position will be formally adopted at a forthcoming Council meeting, once the Netherlands have confirmed their agreement and the Committee of the Regions has delivered its opinion. It will then be sent to the European Parliament for a second reading according to the co-decision procedure.
The draft decision aims at rationalising and strengthening the effectiveness of cultural co-operation actions, within a single financing and programming instrument intended to replace the three current cultural programmes KALEIDOSCOPE, ARIANE and RAPHAEL.
The total budget agreed by the Council for the 5-year period (1 January 2000 to 31 December 2004) is 167 MECU. The budget breakdown (in terms of "indicative guidelines") between the different types of actions to be supported is as follows: around 40% for specific innovative and/or experimental actions, around 40% for integrated actions, around 10% for special cultural events and around 10% for remaining expenditure.
The objectives of the proposed "Culture 2000" programme are to contribute to the promotion of a cultural area common to the European people, supporting co-operation between creative artists, cultural operators, private and public promoters, the activities of the cultural networks and other partners as well as the cultural institutions of the Member States in order to attain :
- promotion of cultural dialogue and of mutual knowledge of the culture and history of the European peoples ;
- promotion of creativity and the trans-national dissemination of culture and the movement of artists, creators and other cultural operators and professionals and their works, with a strong emphasis on young people and socially disadvantaged people and on cultural diversity;
- the highlighting of cultural diversity and the development of new forms of cultural expression ;
- sharing and highlighting, at the European level, the common cultural heritage of European significance; disseminating know-how and promoting good practices concerning its conservation and safeguarding ;
- taking into account the role of culture in socio-economic development ;
- the fostering of intercultural dialogue and mutual exchange between European and non-European cultures ;
- explicit recognition of culture as an economic factor and as a factor in social integration and citizenship.
The types of cultural action to be supported are :
- specific innovative and/or experimental actions (such activities should aim for example at supporting the creation of multimedia products in the field of culture, promote the dissemination of live cultural events using the new technologies of the information society, support projects aimed at improving access to books and reading...). This support would take the form of grants, seminars and congresses, studies, measures to increase awareness, etc. ;
- integrated actions covered by structured, multiannual cultural co-operation agreements. The programme will contribute in particular to the emergence of broad and structured areas of cooperation through the participation of networks of cultural operators, as well as organizations
and research institutes in the cultural field, in the various Member States and in the other participant States. The activities should for example aim at promoting the use of new technologies, making cultural works and creations accessible to the public, promoting the exchange of experience and mutual awareness of common cultural values of the European people.... The programme would contribute to the participation of organisations, research institutes, etc. ;
- special cultural events with a European and/or international dimension (in particular the European Capital of culture and the European Cultural Month). Those actions should help to increase the sense of the people of Europe of belonging to the same community as well as making them aware of the cultural diversity that exists in the European Union.
The actions will either be vertical (concerning one cultural field) or horizontal (associating several cultural fields).
The "Culture 2000 programme" shall be open to the participation by the countries of the European Economic Area and also to participation by Cyprus and the associated countries of Central and Eastern Europe. This programme shall also permit joint action with international organisations competent in the field of culture such as UNESCO or the Council of Europe.
CROSS-BORDER FIXED BOOK PRICES IN EUROPEAN LINGUISTIC AREAS
Once more the Council discussed the issue of cross-border fixed book prices which has regularly been on its agenda for some years. In response to the Council's request from September 1997((1)), Commissioner Oreja presented his institution's position concerning the fixed book price with regard to Community law; his intervention gave rise to a comprehensive discussion.
Delegations thanked Commissioner Oreja for his clarification which they considered as a useful first step to resolving this important but contentious issue. Many delegations stressed that the cultural aspects of books should prevail over purely economic considerations, and reaffirmed the importance they attach to fixed book prices as a means of maintaining and promoting the diversity and broad accessibility of books.
According to the Commissioner, purely national arrangements with no impact on trade in books between Member States will not be questioned by the Commission, nor will national legislation in this area as long as it does not restrict trade. As far as contractual systems in homogeneous linguistic areas are concerned which do have an impact on trade between Member States (e.g. the German-Austrian agreement), the Commission will take a positive view on their cultural aspects provided that a beneficial effect for culture can clearly be established and that there is no possibility of having other measures which guarantee the same objective while less restricting competition.
The German delegation presented a Memorandum on this subject which will be further examined by the competent Council bodies.
PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING
After an exchange of views during which many delegations emphasized the important role of public service broadcasting, the Council and the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States represented in the Council adopted the following Resolution on public service broadcasting :
"The Council and the representatives of the governments of the Member States meeting within the Council
A. Referring to the Council's discussion on Public Service Broadcasting;
B. Considering the fact that public service broadcasting, in view of its cultural, social and democratic functions which it discharges for the common good, has a vital significance for ensuring democracy, pluralism, social cohesion cultural and linguistic diversity;
C. Stressing that the increased diversification of the programmes on offer in the new media environment reinforces the importance of the comprehensive mission of public service broadcasters;
D. Recalling the affirmation of competence of the Member States concerning remit and funding set out in the Protocol on the system of public broadcasting in the Member States to the Treaty of Amsterdam (*(2)) ;
Note and reaffirm that
1. The Amsterdam protocol confirms that it is the unanimous will of the Member States to stress the role of public service broadcasting;
2. Thus the provisions of the Treaty establishing the European Community shall be without prejudice to the competence of Member States to provide for the funding of public service broadcasting insofar as such funding is granted to broadcasting organisations for the fulfilment of the public service remit as conferred, defined and organised by each Member State, and insofar as such funding does not affect trading conditions and competition in the Community to an extent which would be contrary to the common interest, while the realisation of the remit of that public service shall be taken into account.
3. The fulfilment of the public service broadcasting's mission must continue to benefit from technological progress;
4. Broad public access, without discrimination and on the basis of equal opportunities, to various channels and services is a necessary precondition for fulfilling the special obligation of public service broadcasting;
5. According to the definition of the public service remit by the Member States, public service broadcasting has an important role in bringing to the public the benefits of the new audiovisual and information services and the new technologies;
6. The ability of the public service broadcasting to offer quality programming and services to the public must be maintained and enhanced, including the development and diversification of activities in the digital age;
7. Public service broadcasting must be able to continue to provide a wide range of programming in accordance with its remit as defined by the Member States in order to address society as a whole; in this context it is legitimate for public service broadcasting to seek to reach wide audiences."
STATISTICS CONCERNING THE AUDIOVISUAL AND RELATED SECTORS
The Council took note of the state of play concerning the proposed Decision establishing a Community statistical information infrastructure relating to the industry and markets of the audiovisual and related sectors. A more detailed analysis of the proposal is required, and the Permanent Representatives Committee was, therefore, mandated to pursue its work with a view to finding a balanced and legally accurate solution to the problems still outstanding.
The proposal was put forward by the Commission last July. Its general aim is to ensure a better knowledge of the industry which should be beneficial to the Community institutions (in particular when managing and evaluating the programmes in this area) but also to Member States, the industry itself, professional organizations, researchers, etc.
GREEN PAPER ON THE CONVERGENCE OF THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS, MEDIA AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY SECTORS
The Council heard a report by the Commission on the follow-up to the consultation on the above-mentioned Green paper. This paper was to stimulate a debate on the various aspects of convergence which are of interest to the public authorities (licensing, standardisation, consumer protection, regulatory supervision, research).
The results of the consultation were published by the Commission in September. Commissioner Oreja highlighted the main themes to be developed : access to networks and digital gateways in a converging environment, the creation of a favourable framework to investment and to innovation, the adoption of a more balanced regulatory approach.
HIGH-LEVEL AUDIOVISUAL GROUP SET UP BY COMMISSIONER OREJA
Commissioner Oreja presented the report of the Group which had been set up in 1997 to consider in particular the following three questions:
- How can the European content production industry (film, television, multimedia) get the most out of the expected developments ?
- How can the authorities at European and national level contribute to helping European industry to rise to the industrial, cultural and societal challenges ? What should be the role of the public broadcasting sector in the new environment ?
- What considerations should be given to the general public interest, particularly with regard to ethical issues, in order to safeguard the European approach to society ?
The Group's report and recommendations were recently published by the Commission.
CULTURAL ACTIVITIES AND AUDIOVISUAL ACTIVITIES UNDER THE AUSTRIAN PRESIDENCY
The Council heard a brief presentation by the Presidency about the Cultural Activities and the Audiovisual Activities which were already organised or are still envisaged during the present semester.
(1)()The Council had asked the Commission"-to study the significance of Article 128 (4) for the implementation of those Articles of the Treaty that may concern cross-border fixed book prices, and to indicate, if appropriate, the ways to enable fixed book price regulations/agreements within homogeneous linguistic areas to be applied; -to submit the conclusions of the study to the Council."
(2)(*)Which is in the process of ratification.