Wednesday, 17 December 2008

European Union: Culture

If you as an EU citizen visit a museum in another member state, your entrance fee is the same as for the locals.

Europe was arguably a cultural community long before the establishment of the European Economic Community (EEC), but the EEC Treaty had implications for non-discrimination as well as the free movement of persons, cultural goods and services.

Still, a distinct cultural policy had to wait for the Treaty on European Union (Maastricht Treaty) to be enshrined at treaty level.

The powers of the European Community (European Union) are of the supporting kind, but the Treaty of Lisbon would make it easier to reach decisions on incentive measures and recommendations, when Council moves from unanimity to qualified majority voting (QMV).



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Article 151 TEC

If diversity was what the drafters were looking for, they could have underlined the cultures in the member states. As it is, Article 151 emphasises the division of powers between the member states and the European Community (European Union): cultures of the Member States.

National and regional diversity is brought to the fore, before our common cultural heritage is mentioned.

Encouraging cooperation between member states is mentioned as the main activity, with other supporting and supplementing action following.

Cooperation with the pan-European Council of Europe should not be underestimated.

Incentive measures and recommendations require unanimous Council decisions.

The current Article 151 (ex Article 128) of the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC), as published in the latest consolidated version of the treaties, OJ 29.12.2006 C 321 E/113–114:

TITLE XII
CULTURE

Article 151 TEC

1. The Community shall contribute to the flowering of the cultures of the Member States, while respecting their national and regional diversity and at the same time bringing the common cultural heritage to the fore.

2. Action by the Community shall be aimed at encouraging cooperation between Member States and, if necessary, supporting and supplementing their action in the following areas:

— improvement of the knowledge and dissemination of the culture and history of the European peoples,

— conservation and safeguarding of cultural heritage of European significance,

— non-commercial cultural exchanges,

— artistic and literary creation, including in the audiovisual sector.

3. The Community and the Member States shall foster cooperation with third countries and the competent international organisations in the sphere of culture, in particular the Council of Europe.

4. The Community shall take cultural aspects into account in its action under other provisions of this Treaty, in particular in order to respect and to promote the diversity of its cultures.

5. In order to contribute to the achievement of the objectives referred to in this Article, the Council:

— acting in accordance with the procedure referred to in Article 251 and after consulting the Committee of the Regions, shall adopt incentive measures, excluding any harmonisation of the laws and regulations of the Member States. The Council shall act unanimously throughout the procedure referred to in Article 251,

— acting unanimously on a proposal from the Commission, shall adopt recommendations.

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Original Lisbon Treaty (ToL)

Although the Treaty of Lisbon is unreadable on its own, it spells out how the current treaties are amended.

Article 2, point 126 of the original Treaty of Lisbon (ToL) uses the following inspiring language to convey the specific amendments (OJ 17.12.2007 C 306/83):

CULTURE

126) Article 151(5) shall be amended as follows:

(a) in the introductory phrase, the words ‘the Council’ shall be deleted;

(b) in the first indent, the first sentence shall begin with the words ‘the European Parliament and the Council, acting’, and the second sentence shall be deleted;

(c) in the second indent, the words ‘acting unanimously’ shall be deleted and the indent shall begin with the words ‘the Council, on a proposal’.

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The horizontal amendments replace ‘Community’ by ‘Union’ and the ‘procedure referred to in Article 251’ (cooperation procedure) is replaced by the more readable ‘ordinary legislative procedure’(page 42).

The intergovernmental conference 2007 was not an ‘innovating’ exercise, but a salvage operation, so the essence of the new decision making flows from Article III-280 of the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe and before that Article III-181 of the draft Constitution, although the terms used by the Lisbon Treaty are different.

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Renumbering ToL

The Table of equivalences of the original Treaty of Lisbon tells us that Title XII Culture first became Title XII in the TFEU (ToL), but renumbered Title XIII Culture in the consolidated version.

Article 151 TEC first became Article 151 TFEU (ToL) before the renumbering of the treaty made it into Article 167 TFEU in the consolidated version (OJ 17.12.2007 C 306/217).


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Lisbon Treaty consolidated

After the explicit amendments, horizontal amendments and renumbering, Article 167 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) appears as follows in the consolidated TFEU, published in the Official Journal of the European Union, OJ 9.5.2008 C 115/121–122:

TITLE XIII
CULTURE

Article 167 TFEU
(ex Article 151 TEC)

1. The Union shall contribute to the flowering of the cultures of the Member States, while respecting their national and regional diversity and at the same time bringing the common cultural heritage to the fore.

2. Action by the Union shall be aimed at encouraging cooperation between Member States and, if necessary, supporting and supplementing their action in the following areas:

— improvement of the knowledge and dissemination of the culture and history of the European peoples,

— conservation and safeguarding of cultural heritage of European significance,

— non-commercial cultural exchanges,

— artistic and literary creation, including in the audiovisual sector.

3. The Union and the Member States shall foster cooperation with third countries and the competent international organisations in the sphere of culture, in particular the Council of Europe.

4. The Union shall take cultural aspects into account in its action under other provisions of the Treaties, in particular in order to respect and to promote the diversity of its cultures.

5. In order to contribute to the achievement of the objectives referred to in this Article:

— the European Parliament and the Council acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure and after consulting the Committee of the Regions, shall adopt incentive measures, excluding any harmonisation of the laws and regulations of the Member States,

— the Council, on a proposal from the Commission, shall adopt recommendations.

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Supporting, coordinating or supplementing EU action

Having looked at the powers of the European Union in the field of culture as set out by the Treaty of Lisbon, it might be helpful to recall the general TFEU provisions on categories and areas of Union competence.

Article 2 TFEU presents the main characteristics of exclusive competence and shared competence before the description in Article 2(5) TFEU:

5. In certain areas and under the conditions laid down in the Treaties, the Union shall have competence to carry out actions to support, coordinate or supplement the actions of the Member States, without thereby superseding their competence in these areas.

Legally binding acts of the Union adopted on the basis of the provisions of the Treaties relating to these areas shall not entail harmonisation of Member States' laws or regulations.


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Article 6 TFEU

The policy areas are then formed into rough groups in the following Articles. Here we are interested in Article 6 TFEU. Culture is mentioned among the areas where the EU supports, coordinates or supplements member states’ actions:

Article 6 TFEU

The Union shall have competence to carry out actions to support, coordinate or supplement the
actions of the Member States. The areas of such action shall, at European level, be:

(a) protection and improvement of human health;

(b) industry;

(c) culture;

(d) tourism;

(e) education, vocational training, youth and sport;

(f) civil protection;

(g) administrative cooperation.

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Summary of legislation: Culture

On the Commission’s Scadplus web pages with summaries of legislation, there is one describing the Culture Programme (2007 to 2013):

http://europa.eu/scadplus/leg/en/lvb/l29016.htm

The legal buffs and readers with a professional interest in culture may want to delve deeper into the Decision No 1855/2006/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the Culture Programme (2007 to 2013), published in the Official Journal of the European Union 27.12.2006 L 372/1:

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2006:372:0001:0011:EN:PDF


News and links

General Commission news and links concerning culture can be found here:

http://ec.europa.eu/culture/index_en.htm



Ralf Grahn