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Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council (19-20 May 2011)

Volume 528: debated on Thursday 19 May 2011

The Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council will be held on 19 and 20 May in Brussels. Culture and audiovisual issues will be taken on 18 May. Sport issues will be taken on 20 May. The Deputy UK Permanent Representative, Andy Lebrecht, will be representing the UK for the culture, audiovisual and sport sections of the Council.

The first item on the agenda will be the agreement 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 has not opposed 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. Throughout negotiations the UK 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 there is a risk that funding for the EHL in 2013 will be taken from the margins of the EU budget, the UK has maintained a reserve on financial provisions and intends to abstain in the final vote. It is expected that a 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’s nomination of the city of Mons for the title was agreed at the Council meeting last November. The Czech Republic has now nominated the city of Plzen for the title and the Council will be asked to adopt this decision. The UK will support this proposal.

The Council will be invited to adopt conclusions on the contribution of culture to the implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy. These conclusions highlight the contribution of culture to smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. They invite member states to consider the cross-cutting nature of culture when formulating relevant policies. The UK will support the adoption of these conclusions.

The Council is expected to adopt Council conclusions on mobility information services for artists and for culture professionals. These suggest possible measures to establish mobility information services and foster the flow of information on mobility issues such as taxation, social security, intellectual property rights, visas, work permits, insurance and customs. The conclusions respond to the need identified in several major EU culture policy documents such as the current Culture Programme, the European Agenda For Culture and the Council Work Plans for Culture covering the periods 2008-2010 and 2011-14. The UK will support the adoption of these conclusions.

Under the sport section of the meeting, the Council will be invited to adopt a resolution on a European work plan for sport. The resolution highlights three priority areas for action at EU level: integrity of sport, in particular the fight against doping, match-fixing and the promotion of good governance; social values of sport, in particular health, social inclusion, education and volunteering; and economic aspects of sport, in particular sustainable financing of grassroots sports and evidence-based policy-making. The UK is supportive of the aims of the work plan and intends to support its adoption.

There will then be a discussion of a presidency paper on sport related aspects of online betting. The paper asks questions on the impact recent growth in online betting has had on sport sectors in each member state and what measures have been taken in this respect. The paper also asks what kind of policy response is required at EU level. The deputy permanent representative will intervene to highlight how the UK as an engaged and responsible regulator, is aware of the issues from both the sporting and betting sides and the importance of maintaining an appropriate balance between the industries.

Under any other business there will be a presentation from the Commission on the report from the Comité des Sages on bringing Europe’s cultural heritage online. There will be an information point from the presidency on the Council Work Plan for Culture 2011-2014. The presidency will also raise an information point on EU structured dialogue with the sport movement.

The Polish delegation will inform the Council on the priorities for their forthcoming presidency. The Slovenian and French delegations will raise an information point on a proposed manifesto for culture in Europe. I do not foresee a need to intervene on either of these.