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Education, Youth and Culture Council

Volume 501: debated on Thursday 26 November 2009

The Education, Youth and Culture Council will be held on 26-27 November in Brussels. I will be representing the UK on 27 November when culture and audiovisual issues will be taken. Michael Russell MSP, Minister for Culture, External Affairs and the Constitution for Scotland, will also attend the Council.

The first item on the agenda concerns the Council conclusions on promoting a creative generation. These conclusions are part of a range of initiatives, suggested in 2007 by the Commission Communication on a European agenda for culture in a globalising world, which call for culture to be considered in broader aspects of the Council’s work—in this instance education and digitisation. The UK has been broadly supportive of this approach and I intend to endorse the adoption of these conclusions.

The presidency will then seek to reach a general approach on the proposal for the European year of voluntary activities promoting active European citizenship (2011). The year would promote volunteering and encourage and support the efforts of member states to develop favourable conditions for volunteering in Europe. The proposal for the year will fit well with the UK Government’s aims of increasing the proportion of the population that volunteer.

The year falls helpfully just before the 2012 Olympic Games in London. I intend to support the adoption of this proposal.

The Council will be invited to adopt conclusions on media literacy in the digital environment. These conclusions encourage the promotion of media literacy through formal and informal education, while recognising member state competency on educational policy. They demonstrate our commitment to policies which will support ways of containing the risks of the internet without excessive regulation and which will help realise the creative, educational and economic potential of the internet. The UK welcomes these conclusions and I intend to support their adoption.

There will then be a discussion of a presidency paper on the digitisation of cultural content in Europe. The paper asks a series of questions on the main challenges faced by Europe in making its cultural heritage better available online. I will intervene to outline the UK view on the main issues that need to be addressed by European initiatives to encourage the digitisation of cultural works, how Governments and the EU can help facilitate private initiatives and public-private partnerships for making cultural works digitally available and what can be done by member states and national institutions to make important digitised material widely available.

Under any other business the Commission will provide information on the Google Books settlement. There will be an information point from the French delegation on the digitisation of cinemas in Europe. There will also be an information point from the Slovenian delegation on improving the position of publishers who issue books in languages with small numbers of speakers. The Austrian delegation will raise an issue concerning the protocol amending the Council of Europe convention on transfrontier television. I do not foresee a need to intervene on any of these.