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The AV sector's role in the European Commission's new strategy for international relations


- On 8 June the European Commission adopted the new “Strategy for culture in international relations”, which reinforces the importance of the audiovisual sector

The AV sector's role in the European Commission's new strategy for international relations

On 8 June the European Commission adopted the highly anticipated Strategy for international cultural relations, in which culture plays a crucial role – as an engine for social and economic development, the promotion of intercultural dialogue, and peaceful inter-community relations. Furthermore, the Strategy emphasises the potential for culture to contribute to the resolution of the current challenges faced by Europe, such as the integration of refugees and migrants, countering violent radicalisation and the protection of cultural heritage.

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The audiovisual sector is referred to as an indispensable part of the process for better understanding countries’ identities and differences, as the Strategy encourages audiovisual operators from the region to embrace the opportunity to take part in the Creative Europe programme, as well as the Eastern Partnership Culture Programme II, the EU’s cooperation with the Anna Lindh Foundation, which plays an important role in promoting intercultural dialogue in the Mediterranean, and Med Culture (2014-2018), the EU programme that supports partner countries in the development of cultural policies and practices.

The Strategy cites the film industry as a driver for peace and socioeconomic development in third-world countries in the document’s sub-section: “Supporting culture as an engine for social and economic development”, with Med Film, a new three-year capacity-building programme that helps filmmakers tackle sensitive issues on a regional level. This is a new proposal from the European Commission, which currently has an ongoing call with an overall budget of €4.5 million, for the support of the film industry and its development as a job-creating sector in the South Mediterranean region.

Another part of the Strategy that concerns the audiovisual sector directly is the support for joint European cultural activities as a way of enhancing the visibility of the EU in third-world countries. A new two-year scheme, with a budget of €1.5 million to organise EU film festivals in a more coherent and strategic way, will be launched in 2017. At present, over 75 EU delegations are involved in running film festivals and other activities.

Additionally, already existing programmes have now been incorporated into a framework with long-term strategy objectives. This means that the Cotonou Partnership Agreement between the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, which was signed in 2000 and will be in force until 2020, is now included as part of the Strategy’s geographic framework for cooperation. Under this agreement, the European Development Fund supports projects strengthening the technical, financial and managerial capacities of creative industries, including ones that develop and structure the ACP States’ film and audiovisual industries. The Commission is currently exploring a framework that will govern relations with ACP countries after the expiration of the Agreement.

For the implementation of the Strategy for international cultural relations, the EU can call upon its 139 Delegations and Offices operating around the world. In addition, the EU Cultural Diplomacy Platform set up in February 2016, which focuses on strategic partners, will advise the European Commission and the European External Action Service on external cultural policy, facilitate networking, carry out activities with cultural stakeholders and develop training programmes for cultural leadership.

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