CoR calls for Culture to be better integrated in Europe 2020 Strategy

​Anton Rombouts

​To address the current socio-economic challenges facing the EU, the Committee of the Regions (CoR) has called for a long-term vision strongly tied up to the cultural and creative sectors. With the unanimous adoption of an opinion on "Cultural and Creative Sectors for Growth and Jobs" at the CoR May plenary, EU mayors and regional representatives also urged that culture and creativity be better incorporated in the Europe 2020 Strategy.

"At a time of crisis, appeals to imagination lead to creativity. In turn creativity enables to come up with innovative solutions to stimulate economic growth and wealth, but also to give hope to businesses and citizens. The EU’s international influence is based on imagination, creativity and innovation by pursuing new ideas, new concepts and new projects. Cultural and creative sectors make a major contribution in this regard", stressed rapporteur Anton Rombouts (NL/EPP), Mayor of 's-Hertogenbosch and President of the CoR Education, Youth, Culture and Research commission, when presenting its opinion in plenary.

Based on the fact that not only enterprises but a complete knowledge and cultural system is necessary to support smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, the CoR calls for the Europe 2020 Strategy – the EU Growth Strategy - to better integrate culture and creativity, particularly through its Digital Agenda and Innovation Union flagship initiatives.

In response to the European Commission's strategy to boost growth and jobs in cultural and creative sectors, the CoR also underlines the importance of the local and regional level for the development of culture, not only in protecting cultural heritage and promoting artistic innovation, but also in assisting cultural institutions and in staging cultural events. In addition to providing the bulk of funding for culture in most areas of Europe, cities and regions also act as laboratories for cultural and creative experimentation.

As stressed by the rapporteur, a community that invests in culture, education and sport grows wealthier and safer: "A city that invests in culture will perform better in its economy and in the fight for competitiveness. This simple fact holds true for a city or a village, but also its region, an entire state and the whole European Union.", said Mr Rombouts. In this context, the CoR supports the Commission's emphasis on five key policy drivers, namely: developing skills; improving access to finance; promoting new business models and enlarging audiences; facilitating cooperation with other sectors and policies; and expanding international reach.

In relation to the need to better promote "cultural clusters", the CoR stresses the urge to position cities and regions at the hub of knowledge networks to fully benefit from the free movement of ideas, capital and people. In the CoR's views support from local and regional authorities is indeed vital for the development of such clusters, but these also need to be linked into European and global knowledge networks to enhance their effectiveness.

More information and statistics to analyse the operation and effects of the cultural and creative sectors is also deemed necessary, also with a view to helping make the case for commercial funding for creative enterprises. In that sense, the CoR considers that Eurostat should be encouraged to develop more effective and timely European cultural statistics.

As part of its series of conferences to assess the Europe 2020 Strategy at a local and regional level, the CoR will organise a conference on culture and its impact on economic activities and social cohesion in January 2014. Participants will include policy-makers, experts, representatives of European associations and international organisations, academics in the field of culture, as well as cultural and creative entrepreneurs and artists.