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Opening of the meeting of the Education, Youth and Culture Council: Culture finally confirmed as a development factor

Today, as part of the first meeting of the Education, Youth and Culture  Council, the ministers of the EU competent for culture and audiovisual policy headed by the President of the Council and Slovenian Minister of Culture, Dr Vasko Simoniti, were presented the fact that the inclusion of culture in the Lisbon Strategy in the framework of activities of the Slovenian Presidency constituted an important step towards the recognition that culture has important development potentials.

Minister Simoniti said that it was only due to united efforts that culture and creativity were included in the conclusions of the March European Council. "The important role of culture and creativity in connection with investments in know-how and innovation and investments in people and modernisation of the labour market was recognised. On one hand, the inclusion of culture in the Integrated Guidelines for Growth and Jobs recognised the role of culture as a development factor at such a high level, while on the other, the recognition of this role imposes new obligations in the future," stated Minister Simoniti.

In reference to audiovisual issues, the ministers had a public discussion on creative online content and focused particularly on the issues of the most important challenges and added value of the initiative at the EU level in this field. In addition, the ministers discussed and adopted the proposal for the Council conclusions on the European approach to media literacy in the digital environment. They also stressed the need for further exchanges of good practice in this field. Furthermore, the Conclusions welcome the intention of the Commission to develop indicators assessing the level of media literacy. In addition, the ministers adopted a general approach concerning the proposal for establishing a multi-annual Community programme for the protection of children using the Internet and other communication technologies. For several years, the Commission has had the Safer Internet Plus programme, attempting to fund initiatives at the EU level with true added value in the fight against illegal and harmful behaviour online. The programme will expire at the end of this year, and it is important to quickly establish a substitute programme. Today’s agreement is in accordance with Slovenian efforts to protect children and minors, which Minister Simoniti already successfully advocated during the negotiations on the adoption of the Directive on Audiovisual Media Services.

Concerning the field of culture, the ministers discussed and adopted the proposed decisions on the Work Plan for Culture 2008–2010, which contains priority areas such as the improvement of conditions for the mobility of artists and other professionals in the cultural field; promotion of the accessibility of culture, especially by promoting cultural heritage, digitisation, cultural tourism and greater mobility of art collections; and promotion and implementation of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, and others. The Work Plan for Culture 2008–2010 aims at creating, in the light of the full observation of the subsidiarity principle, a framework for fostering cooperation in culture at the European level by means of the open method of coordination, primarily in the above priority areas.

The ministers also discussed and confirmed the proposed Council conclusions on intercultural competencies. This concerns a document drawn up during the Slovenian Presidency in line with efforts to ensure that, in the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue, special attention is devoted to the implementation of its content and, in particular, to the concern that the content should be kept alive in the context of European policies even after the end of the Year. The proposed conclusions therefore include initiatives for the development of intercultural competencies in the field of culture, education, youth and audiovisual policy, with a view to promoting intercultural competencies by means of an inter-sectoral approach and the inclusion of intercultural dialogue in other relevant EU policies.

At the end of the Council meeting, as part of the presentation of the activities of the Slovenian Presidency, President of the Council Simoniti pointed out the aforementioned progress in the inclusion of culture in the Lisbon Strategy and especially the fact that Slovenia, as the presiding state of the EU Council, devoted great attention to the implementation of the content of the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue. Slovenia organised the opening ceremony of the Year for the entire Community and endeavoured to highlight the content of intercultural dialogue from different aspects during its Presidency. The organisation of conferences and meetings during Slovenia’s Presidency was thus permeated with reflections on intercultural dialogue, with contributions of intellectuals, civil society representatives and distinguished political guests.


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Date: 23.05.2008