The Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council will be held on 18-19 November in Brussels. Culture, audio-visual and sport issues will be taken on 18 November. The Deputy UK Permanent Representative, Andy Lebrecht, will be representing the UK for the culture and audio-visual section of the Council. The Minister for Sport and the Olympics, will represent the UK for the sport section of the Council.
The first item on the agenda will be a progress report from the presidency on the ongoing negotiations on the proposal for a European heritage label (EHL). The EHL is a proposal that builds on an informal process launched independently by a group of member states in 2007. The designation is intended to focus on the promotion of sites that “symbolise and strengthen European history and heritage”, rather than conservation. Although the UK does not oppose the creation of the EHL in principle, the Government have reservations about the need for a new scheme that presents the potential for duplication of the UNESCO world heritage list. The UK has actively supported the voluntary nature of the scheme; opposed any additional cost burdens; and supported changes to make the scheme as light touch as possible. As this item will only be a progress report from the presidency, no formal agreement on the proposal will be reached at the Council meeting.
The presidency will seek the adoption of a decision on the selection of a city to host the European capital of culture event for 2015. Belgium and the Czech Republic are the EU member states eligible to nominate cities for 2015. Belgium has put forward the city of Mons for the title. The UK will support this proposal. The selection procedures for the Czech Republic are still ongoing and are due to be completed in early 2011.
The Council will be invited to adopt conclusions on the work plan for culture 2011-14. The conclusions take into account the final reports from the culture open method of co-ordination (OMC) groups and the Commission report on the implementation of the European agenda for culture, noting the member states support for continuing the OMC work. The work plan sets out six priority areas. These are: cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue and accessible and inclusive culture; cultural and creative industries; skills and mobility; cultural heritage including mobility of collections; culture in external relations; and culture statistics. The implementation of the work plan will be achieved by four new OMC groups, presidency seminars and Commission activity. The UK will support the adoption of these conclusions.
The Council is expected to adopt Council conclusions on the role of culture in combating poverty and social exclusion. The conclusions address the need to consider cultural policies in the fight against poverty and social exclusion. The UK welcomed these conclusions especially as this year has been designated as the European year of combating poverty and social exclusion. The UK will support the adoption of these conclusions.
The Council will be invited to adopt conclusions on European film heritage, including the challenges of the digital era. The conclusions focus on the need to safeguard the cultural heritage of film in the light of evolving digital technologies. They invite member states to adapt existing legal deposit arrangements to cover film, to promote voluntary deposit and suitable arrangements for preservation, exhibition and use of films, including digitisation of film heritage and film archive education and training. The UK is broadly supportive of the aims of the conclusions and intends to support their adoption.
The Council is expected to adopt the Council conclusions on the opportunities and challenges for European cinema in the digital era. The conclusions aim to promote the use of digital technologies for film distribution, including for art-house and rural cinemas, to promote access to European works, cultural and linguistic diversity and social cohesion. The conclusions welcome Commission plans to provide funding through the MEDIA programme before the end of 2010 to support digitisation. The UK intends to support the adoption of these conclusions.
There will then be a discussion of a presidency paper on the cultural and audio-visual strands of the digital agenda. The paper asks questions on which cultural and audio-visual strands should be considered a priority in the digital agenda and how this can be reflected. The Deputy Permanent Representative will intervene to outline the two UK priorities. The first priority is the need to address the fragmented state of the European digital market to reduce burdens on business, to make it easier for consumers to get access to legitimate content and to reduce piracy. The UK’s second overarching priority in respect of the cultural and audio-visual strands of the digital agenda is digital literacy and skills.
Under the sport section of the meeting, the Council is expected to adopt a resolution on the creation of high-level structured dialogue between representatives of the sport movement and EU public authorities. The new structured dialogue process will bring together the high-level sports movement and EU public authorities once per presidency, in the margins of the Council meeting. This could potentially be an important and influential group, with senior sport figures taking key seats. The UK will support the agreement of this resolution.
The Council is invited to adopt the Council conclusions on sport and social inclusion, demonstrating the value that it places on sport. The conclusions highlight the power of sport to break down social barriers and promote social inclusion. The conclusions invite the member states to take action at domestic level. The UK has a strong story to tell on sports’ performance in these areas and will support the adoption of these conclusions.
There will then follow a policy debate on social inclusion in and through sport. The presidency has posed questions on specific projects running in member states aimed at promoting sport among socially disadvantaged groups and what priorities member states envisage for work at EU level in this field. The Minister for Sport and the Olympics will intervene to highlight examples of initiatives in the UK and to welcome the new working group on social inclusion in sport in which the UK is taking a leading role.
The Council is also invited to adopt Council conclusions on the role of the EU in the fight against doping. The conclusions intend to recognise officially the need for appropriate co-ordination on issues concerning the EU and member states’ dealings with the World Anti-Doping Agency. The UK intends to support these conclusions.
Under any other business there will be an information point from the Luxembourg delegation on a draft extended partial agreement on the Council of Europe cultural routes programme. There will also be an information point from the Bulgarian delegation on the charity campaign for the recovery of the Triumph Theatre in Haiti. I do not foresee a need to intervene on either of these.