The Minister for Culture, Maggy Nagel, and the Minister for Education, Children and Youth, Claude Meisch, presented, on 14 July 2015, the priorities of the Luxembourg Presidency in the field of culture and education to the Committee on Culture and Education (CULT) of the European Parliament meeting in Brussels.
Culture: The Luxembourg Presidency will focus on culture and development cooperation
The challenge of the Luxembourg Presidency will be to 'continue to invest all our efforts in demonstrating that the development and future of the European Union also involves culture', observed Maggy Nagel as an introduction to her speech.
The Presidency will therefore endeavour to highlight the 'role and the transversal contribution of culture (…) to EU policy objectives'. It will focus on 'the most horizontal, strategic and coherent consideration of culture as a vital element in the external relations of the European Union, the 3rd objective of the European Agenda for Culture and the 4th priority of the 2015-2018 Council Work Plan for Culture', stated Maggy Nagel.
At the time of the European Year for Development, the Presidency has chosen to focus on culture and development cooperation. This choice is also explained by Maggy Nagel by the fact that coherence of development policies is one of priorities of the Luxembourg Presidency at the Council of Ministers responsible for development or even by the fact that United Nations negotiations on Sustainable Development Goals will enter their final phase in Autumn 2015.
In this context, the Presidency will organise a conference entitled 'Culture and development: towards a more strategic approach to cultural policies in EU external relations', to be held in Luxembourg on 3 and 4 September 2015. This event will notably include studying the ways in which culture can contribute to the implementation and realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Minister also mentioned the priorities of the Presidency in the audiovisual field and, more particularly, as regards the Digital Single Market Strategy put forward by the European Commission on 6 May 2015. In this context, Maggy Nagel stressed the need to 'remove barriers in order to allow European content to circulate (…) without discrimination on grounds of place of residence or nationality'.
On the subject of modernising copyright rules, Maggy Nagel gave assurances that the Presidency will review any legislative proposals presented in this field over the next six months.
Lastly, the Luxembourg Presidency will follow with great interest the issue of geo-blocking, stated the Minister. In addition, she will give her full support to the Commission which has announced measures designed to end such practices for the start of 2016, affirmed Maggy Nagel.
Education: the Presidency will focus on the inclusion of all young people in quality education
In terms of education, the Presidency has chosen to focus on 'the inclusion of all young people in quality education', stated Claude Meisch. According to Claude Meisch, inclusion is a 'prerequisite for promoting youth employability, active citizenship and adherence to common European values', and should involve children and young people 'of all social, cultural and linguistic origins'.
Observing that educationis an area that essentially falls within the competence of the Member States, Claude Meisch underlined the role of the European Union (EU) in that regard: 'to inspire, complement and support reforms taken at national level, in particular through the exchange of good practices'.
A principal element of the programme of the Presidency is the adoption of the Joint Report of the Council and the European Commission on progress made in implementing the ET2020 Strategic Framework. This instrument aims to structure European cooperation in the field of education and training and was adopted in May 2009 by EU Member States.
The Luxembourg Presidency will review the measures taken and efforts to be pursued by the EU and its Member States to further reduce school drop-out rates in Europe, said Claude Meisch. A symposium on this subject was also held on 9 and 10 July 2015 in Luxembourg. On the basis of the outcomes of the meeting, Luxembourg will propose draft conclusions to Education Ministers during the Council meeting on 'Education, youth and culture' in November 2015, announced the Minister.
Moreover, on 10 and 11 September 2015, Luxembourg will organise a Conference on 'Diversity and Multilingualism in Early Childhood Education and Care'. This conference will make it possible to 'identify levers, political actions and good practices which enables the needs of all children to be met in a context of multilingualism and diversity.'
Lastly, the Grand Duchy has organised, in cooperation with the European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education, a hearing to which young Europeans with or without special educational needs will be invited to express themselves. These young Europeans will thus have an opportunity to develop recommendations on inclusive education that will be brought to the attention of Education Ministers during the Council meeting in November 2015, stated Claude Meisch.
In the field of youth, 'the Luxembourg Presidency coincides with the conclusion of both a structured dialogue cycle with young people in Europe and the implementation of the first EU Work Plan for Youth', observed Claude Meisch. It is therefore necessary to 'take stock, but also to lay the foundations for the years to come', stated the Minister.
The Luxembourg Presidency will also aim to 'develop European synergies necessary to strengthen the participation of young people in democratic life in Europe'. To do this, the Presidency will propose a resolution to the Council in this regard.
During the European Youth Conference, to be held in Luxembourg from 21 to 24 September and which will mark the end of the current cycle of dialogue, young people will have the opportunity to consider the advice of ministers and issue final recommendations which will then be submitted to Ministers for Youth during the Council meeting in November 2015, announced Claude Meisch.
Furthermore, the Presidency will seek to adopt a 2015 Joint Report of the Council and the Commission on Youth, making an interim assessment on the implementation of the renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field.
Lastly, the Presidency will propose the adoption of a draft resolution on an EU Work Plan for Youth. This Work Plan will present, in particular, the major priorities of youth policy with regard to the EU Strategy 2016-2018.
Questions from MEPs
In response to a speech by an MEP on the decrease in funds allocated to culture, Maggy Nagel stated that to counter the trend, it is necessary 'to work towards the transversal nature of culture', welcoming the fact that the 2016 budget for the Creative Europe Programme is greater than that of 2015, 'which is a good sign'.
Asked about geo-blocking, the Culture Minister affirmed that the Presidency would make every effort to find a solution with the Prime Minister, Minister of State, Xavier Bettel.
In terms of copyright, Maggy Nagel said the challenge will be 'to reconcile circulation and accessibility of works, whilst respecting the right of authors to obtain an equitable remuneration'.
As for Claude Meisch, he promised that the Presidency would 'try to focus on multilingualism throughout this great Europe', where economic and cultural exchanges are 'only possible if we master several languages', whilst observing that the principle of subsidiarity is applied in the EU in this regard.
On the subject of investment in the field of education, Claude Meisch stressed that this was important if one wished 'to develop the future' and 'be successful economically'. We must 'impart skills to future generations to enable them to make good decisions later on and train them to be responsible citizens in a position to take part in democratic debate' he stated.