The Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council took place in Brussels on 21 and 22 November 2016. Shan Morgan, the UK Deputy Permanent Representative to the EU, represented the UK at the Youth, Culture and the Sport sections of the Council. As is procedure, this statement sets out a record of that meeting.
The Council was asked to adopt draft conclusions on promoting new approaches in youth work to uncover and develop the potential of young people. The conclusions recommended the need to promote effective and innovative cross-sectoral policies that can help young people realise their full potential. The UK supported the conclusions and these were adopted by Council.
The presentation was immediately followed by a policy debate on young Europeans at the centre of a modern European Union, introduced by representatives from the Young Audience Unit of the European Broadcasting Union. This debate discussed how best to connect young people to policy-makers. The UK described its successful UK Youth Parliament initiative and welcomed the opportunity afforded to participate in cross-EU dialogue with young people through the presidency’s successful Youth Conference.
The Council presented a progress report on the proposals for the revised Audio-visual Media Services Directive. The Audio-visual Media Services Directive seeks to ensure the effective operation of the internal market for television broadcasting services by ensuring the free movement of broadcasting services throughout the EU. The Commission (represented by Commissioner Oettinger) vowed to work constructively with member states in assisting the Maltese presidency reach a general approach by next Council.
This was followed by first reading on the proposal for a European Year of Cultural Heritage (2018). The objective of this initiative is to raise awareness of the opportunities that cultural heritage bring, mainly in terms of intercultural dialogue, social cohesion and economic growth. At the same time, the European Year aims at drawing attention to the challenges that cultural heritage is facing, including environmental and physical pressure on heritage sites and illicit trafficking of cultural objects. The UK supported this and a general approach was agreed.
The Council was invited to adopt a proposal to amend the European Capitals of Culture for the years 2020 to 2033 to extend the access to EFTA/EEA countries. A general approach was agreed, with UK Government support of the proposal. The UK parliamentary scrutiny reserve was noted and maintained.
Finally there was a public debate, “towards an EU strategy for international cultural relations”. This discussed how the EU and its member states can co-operate to bring about a more strategic approach to culture in external relations. The UK’s intervention focused on the work of the British Council and the need to respect the principle of subsidiarity as member states must be free to pursue their own cultural agendas.
The Council adopted conclusions on sport diplomacy. The conclusions acknowledged that sport is a possible tool in supporting intercultural, economic and political cooperation, and that its potential can be part of extending and strengthening contacts between the EU and third countries. The UK supported the adoption of these conclusions.
This was followed by a public debate on the impact of sport on personal development. The UK intervention demonstrated the work the UK is already carrying out in this area through participation, Olympic legacy and the sport strategy.
The Maltese delegation presented information on the work programme of their incoming presidency.
The French delegation presented information on reform of the European copyright framework. This was followed by the Croatian and Irish delegations on the European Capitals of Culture 2020. The Italian delegation presented information on ‘Facing crisis in Europe: Investing in Culture’.
The Council was presented with information on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) meeting in Glasgow (19-20 November) by the EU member states representatives in WADA, Belgium and Malta. This was followed by the French delegation on development and specific features of the organisation of European sport.