EU Ministers of Culture managed to agree on a common attitude in updating the EU directive on audiovisual media services

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2017 05 23

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On 23 May, Minister of Culture Liana Ruokytė- Jonsson participated in the meeting of the Council of Ministers of Culture and Audiovisual Affairs of the European Union held in Brussels, during which the EU Ministers of Culture managed to agree on a compromise and accept a common attitude of the Council regarding the draft of the updated EU directive on audiovisual media services, as well as granting the mandate to the countries presiding over the EU Council to carry out interinstitutional negotiations with the European Parliament in agreeing on the clauses of the directive important for both institutions. EU Council is currently presided by Malta, next year Estonia will take over the presidency.

At the opening of the meeting, Minister of Culture expressed sincere condolences on behalf of Lithuania to the British colleagues, families of the victims, all people of the United Kingdom for the tragedy in Manchester, which Liana Ruokytė-Jonsson strongly believes will encourage all Europeans to be more determined in pursuit of greater solidarity fighting against terrorism.

The Lithuanian Minister of Culture also expressed her gratitude for inclusion of the social security matter important for Lithuania into urgent procedure and improvement of the matter regarding stronger cooperation of regulators.

The common attitude accepted by the Council contains the statements important for Lithuania, first of all, the grounds for restriction of audiovisual services are broadened by including the criterion of public safety, including national safety and defence, which will be applied to both conventional television and ordered audiovisual services accessible on Internet.

With the situation changing in the common digital market of Europe, amendment of the EU directive on audiovisual media services was needed, the present version of which was approved ten years ago.

The purpose of the new version of the directive is to broaden the audiovisual rules to be applied to the whole audiovisual content not only for conventional television and ordered services, but also for shared use platforms of video materials, such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc. The purpose is to protect minors against harmful influence of negative information as well as all people against violence, incitement of hatred, terrorism, great attention is focused on the protection of public safety and public health.

At the Council's meeting, Minister of Culture Liana Ruokytė-Jonsson emphasised the importance of 'urgency procedure' of audiovisual services restriction, when in case of very serious breaches of audiovisual content, considering the criterion of public safety, decisions on restriction of audiovisual services can be made immediately, after the first breach. The Minister also highlighted the importance of strengthened cooperation between the regulatory institutions of the receiving country and country of origin of audiovisual services, from which services are provided. Cooperation of these institutions according to the proposed clauses of the directive must be sincere and prompt when facing problems regarding the audiovisual service contend transmitted from the country of origin, which do not comply with the rules of the receiving country.

The Ministers of Culture adopted the Council's conclusions on EU strategic attitude to international cultural relations, in which culture is recognised as one of the elements of strategic and intersectoral attitude to EU international relations and which emphasises that strategic attitude to international cultural relations should not infringe independence of cultural sector, should promote relations between artists, cultural sector and civic society.  The conclusions also emphasise the importance of fostering cultural diversity in the European Union, attention to development of intercultural competences and cultural dialogue, emphasises the need to initiate actions at the EU level to ensure thorough complementarity in respect of Member States' actions and the activities carried out at the international level (through the European Council, UNESCO, etc.). EU Member States and the European Commission are encouraged to develop an integrated, comprehensive and gradually implemented strategic attitude of the EU to international cultural relations and to prepare appropriate activity guidelines defining the fields where joint actions at the EU level should be relevant.

The Ministers congratulated Greece and Romania at the Council's meeting for the events of European capitals of culture to be held in the cities of these two countries in 2021. In 2021, Timișoara will be the capital of culture in Romania, and Elefsina in Greece. Serbian City Novi Sad will also be the European capital of culture, which won a separate selection of the European capitals of culture organised every three years, which is intended for the cities of countries aspiring EU membership.

Estonia introduced the slogan 'Unity through Balance' of the presidency of the EU Council in the second half of 2017 and four priorities: open and innovative economy of Europe, safe Europe, inclusive and sustainable Europe and digital Europe. In the field of audiovisual policies, the purpose of Estonia is to achieve the final agreement with the European Parliament and to adopt an amended EU directive on audiovisual media services. In the field of culture, Estonia will make attempts to adopt the Council's conclusions on promotion of cultural accessibility through digital media, focusing major attention on audience development.

After the Council's meeting, bilateral meeting of Minister of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania Liana Ruokytė-Jonsson and Minister of Culture and Democracy of Sweden Alice Bah Kuhnke was held at which the Ministers discussed the possibilities of Lithuanian and Swedish cooperation in the fields of implementation of audiovisual media services directive, culture and art, discussed taking over of good experience in building culture policies, participation in the frameworks of Nordic and Baltic regional cooperation, the extension  of the Nordic and Baltic mobility programme for 2015–2020.