Can the Creative Europe programme reconcile diversity with competitiveness?
by Thierry Leclercq
- The European Parliament weighs up the programme, which funded 4,494 projects in 2014 and 2015
When it has funded over 4,000 projects in two years, how can the Creative Europe programme reconcile cultural diversity and industrial policy, asks the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) in preparation for its mid-term evaluation (download here).
The Creative Europe programme has, without a doubt, garnered “huge interest from operators in the two sectors” (Culture and MEDIA), notes European Parliament analyst Samuele Dossi: in 2014 and 2015, 4,494 projects received funding (4,142 MEDIA projects, 702 Culture projects), 43% of the total number of applications submitted (10,253), with the programme now proving to be more selective. In the audiovisual sector, there is a clear predilection for the distribution and development sectors, with France leading the pack in terms of the number of projects submitted and selected.
The EPRS is nevertheless questioning the effectiveness of such scattered funding across so many projects: is it possible to reconcile the desire to preserve the diversity of the cultural and creative sector with competitiveness and the pursuit of industrial policy in these sectors"? Especially as there’s also the desire to establish fair access for all operators – a level playing field – regardless of whether these are from small or big countries.
The report also highlights the difficulty in planning and organising coherent actions within the framework of a programme that rests on a "hybrid structure" that involves two Directorates-General and one executive agency, although it also recognises that this has its advantages “due to the intrinsic differences underpinning the functioning and nature of investments in the two sectors of the media industry and culture". The fact that the MEDIA sub-programme is run by DG CONNECT also ensures synergies with the strategy put into place for the digital single market.
The role and actions of the 39 Creative Europe Desks set up in 38 countries is also highlighted as being "particularly relevant" in improving the quality and relevance of projects rather than increasing their quantity. More could nevertheless still be done "to improve the desks’ capacity to act as real facilitator for potential beneficiaries and as a radar in detecting their actual needs".
The Parliament analyst finally expresses certain reservations over the performance indicators of the programme, – the number of video games produced, the number of loans given to companies – which are poorly aligned with its objectives and difficult to handle when it comes to aggregating these results in a cross-cutting way. It could also be a good idea to look at the “sustainability of projects”, aside from public support, and their ability to create more long-term leverage effects.
The evaluation of the Creative Europe programme will be the subject of a mid-term report by the European Commission at the end of 2017, with the Committee on Culture and Education having appointed its President, Silvia Costa, to draw up an own-initiative report.
(Translated from French)