Androulla Vassiliou ist EU-Kommissarin für Bildung, Kultur und Jugend. Sie ist verantwortlich für das Programm Kreatives Europa. In der Zeit von 2014 bis 2020 sieht das Rahmenwerk die finanzielle Unterstützung der Kultur- und Kreativwirtschaft mit 1,8 Milliarden Euro vor, um das Wachstumspotential einer immer bedeutender werdenden Branche zu sichern.

Dear Ms. Vassiliou, "Creative Europe“ is a EU-program dedicated to fostering the creative sector in Europe. What are detailed measures and tools of the program?

The new program will provide financial support for a wide range of cross-border cultural activities and promote greater transnational mobility among people working in the cultural field.

To achieve these goals, the European Commission has proposed a budget of € 1.8 billion for its next seven-year budget starting in 2014. If our plans are adopted by the EU Council and the European Parliament we will be able to provide funding to enable 300.000 artists and cultural professionals and their work to reach new audiences beyond their home countries. More than 1.000 European films would receive distribution support, enabling them to be seen by audiences throughout Europe and the world, and 2.500 European cinemas would get funding to ensure that at least half of the films they screen are European. More than 5.500 books and other literary works would receive support for translation, allowing readers to enjoy them in their mother tongue.

Overall, the new program would allocate almost € 500 million for culture and € 900 million in support of the cinema and audiovisual sector in 2014-2020. We would also set up a € 200 million financial guarantee facility, managed by the European Investment Fund, which will make it easier for small companies in the sector to access competitive loans.

This action is necessary because the cultural and creative sectors – though doing well compared to many other sectors – are not currently making the most of the Single Market. One of the difficulties the sector faces is language: the European Union has 23 official languages, 3 alphabets and approximately 60 officially recognized regional and minority languages. This diversity is part of Europe's rich tapestry but it hinders efforts by authors to reach readers in other countries, for cinema or theatre audiences to see foreign works, and for musicians to reach new listeners.

Creative enterprises within the creative sector often struggle to get access to finance. "Creative Europe" is planning to promote financial guarantee facilities for the creative industries. With this service the program will vouch for creative enterprises with an extended number of financial institutions. Why not offer direct financial grants?

Indeed, access to finance is one of the sector's main challenges. However, studies show that in some sub-sectors (notably in gaming, music, film, design and publishing) there is more of a need for bank loans than direct grants.

Loans are often not easily accessible, especially for smaller operators, since 'intangible assets' such as intellectual property rights are often not taken into account by lenders when they assess a company's balance sheet. We want to encourage the banking world to develop more expertise about the cultural and creative sector while at the same time cultural operators perhaps need to adapt their business plans to meet lenders' requirements. The main added value of the new facility which I am proposing lies in the critical mass of loans that it can generate (we estimate up to € 1 billion) and the economic expertise that can be built up across national borders. This level of finance is certainly much more than what we could achieve through direct grants.

Besides financial sponsorship, what else is required to guarantee an effective and sustainable subsidy policy?

Cost is, without doubt, a barrier to transnational cooperation. European funding can help leverage national and local funds for such cooperation and help through economies of scale and critical mass. EU-level support can stimulate systemic changes. For example, support for cooperation between concert halls across Europe can help develop a network to showcase and promote new European talent in a far more cost-efficient and effective way than a single concert hall in one Member State could manage by itself. It can also help in bringing more European talents to a wider range of audiences.

The same can be said for measures aimed at developing skills: shared activities involving partners from different Member States can speed up knowledge exchange. In this respect, international exchanges – for example in the field of policy development – can also help lead to a more 'level playing field' across Europe.

What role does the European perspective play regarding the competitiveness of the creative sector and its local actors?

Our aim is to promote both the artistic and economic value of the sector. Our focus on international impact can help ensure that artistic and creative works that have been developed locally can cross borders.

The contribution of the sector to the European economy is emphasized in the EU's strategy for growth and development. The Commission estimates that the European cultural and creative sectors represent around 4.5% of European GDP and account for some 3.8% of the EU workforce (8.5 million people).

As well as seeking EU support through the Culture and MEDIA arms of our policy, I would urge local, regional and national authorities to make the most of the opportunities for funding of cultural projects provided through the European Regional Development Fund (around €6 billion has been allocated for this purpose between 2007-2013) and the European Social Fund.

"Creative Europe" will run from 2014 to 2020. What's your vision of the creative industries after the program?

Creative Europe can help Europe's cultural and creative sectors to deliver visible results. I am convinced the program can help to create a more vibrant, diverse and accessible European culture as well as a greater access for audiences to cultural diversity. Greater investment in the sector should result in more jobs, greater social inclusion, new technical skills and an increased capacity to work across national borders. 

I am confident Europe's cultural and creative sectors in 2020 will be stronger, more international and better equipped for the challenges ahead.

Over the coming months we will engage in intense negotiations with the Member States and the European Parliament. I hope that an agreement will be struck to provide fitting support for the future of Europe's culture and creativity.