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Education,Youth, Culture and Sport Council

Volume 588: debated on Monday 24 November 2014

The Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council will take place in Brussels on 25 November. I will represent the UK at the culture, and audiovisual sections, and the deputy permanent representative to the EU, Shan Morgan, will represent the UK at the sport section.

Culture and Audiovisual

The Council will be invited to adopt draft Council conclusions on European Audiovisual policy in the digital era. The UK welcomes these conclusions, which set the main goals of European audio-visual policy, including high quality content, full cross-border circulation of European audio-visual works, and the assurance of equal conditions for competitiveness for audiovisual media service providers within the single market.

It will then consider draft Council conclusions on the Commission’s work plan for culture for the period 2015-2018. Although we are supportive of the work plan itself, which reflects UK priorities for the culture sector, we do not accept references in the text of the conclusions recommending the equal treatment of e-books and printed books for VAT purposes. This issue is outside the competence of the Council - it is a matter for ECOFIN Council and I therefore intend to block the conclusions.

The Council is expected to adopt conclusions on participatory governance of cultural heritage, which seek to encourage an open and transparent system of cultural governance, and to promote a participatory approach to cultural policy-making. This is concordant with UK policy, and I intend to support.

There will then be a policy debate on the contribution of the cultural and creative sectors to the Europe 2020 strategy. Whilst acknowledging the importance of the sectors themselves, we seek to avoid any linkage with the review of the strategy due in 2015, which is focused on structural market reforms, better regulation, and jobs and growth. I shall make it clear in my intervention that it would be an unhelpful distraction to the Europe 2020 strategy to add references to specific sectors, especially those relating to culture, where it is hard to set quantitative targets.

Sport

Turning to the sport sector, the Council is expected to adopt draft conclusions on sport as a driver of innovation and economic growth. This is in line with UK policy on the sector, and I intend to support.

There will then be a policy debate on sport and physical activity at school age, where I will demonstrate that the UK is committed to providing opportunities in sport for all children regardless of age, gender, or ability: that we are committing significant funding to school sport: and that we challenge the supposition in the Italian Presidency paper on this item that rates of participation in sport are decreasing amongst school age children.

Other Business

The EU Commission will present an update on the current state of negotiations on a comprehensive trade and investment agreement, called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, between the EU and the United States of America.

It is possible that some Member States will seek to ensure that the culture and audio-visual sectors remain excluded from these negotiations. I do not intend to intervene, as no debate has been set for this item, but if necessary will point out that the Culture Council is not the forum for raising trade issues. We should focus our energy on reaching an ambitious agreement, and look for movement on significant areas already covered in the mandate. We should aim for further progress in the negotiations before exposing our red lines to the US.

There will then be a report back on the latest Executive committee and Foundation Board meetings of the World Anti-Doping Agency which took place on 15 -16 November.

Finally there will be a presentation from Latvia on their work programme and priorities for their forthcoming Presidency of the Council, which will run for six months from January 2015.