On the 23rd and 24th October the European Independence Arena took place in Paris, to highlight the value of cultural SMEs, in terms of their contribution to creativity, diversity and the European economy. The event was part of France's Presidency of the EU.

The first of its kind to bring together independents from music, literature and cinema, the event is the first time that a leading minister from a major European country has shown such specific support for cultural SMEs.

The end result was the 'European Independence Declaration' (see below), ten recommendations that were presented to the French Minister of Culture Christine Albanel. The Minister will seek to introduce them quickly at national and European level, noting that they could be regrouped in a “European status for cultural SMEs”. This will be presented to the European Commission and the other European Ministers in charge of Culture.

The Declaration seeks to recognise cultural SMEs as a distinct type of business, meriting specific status for positive discrimination; a higher level of protection for authors' and producers' rights, especially online; access to market for independents through media and retail; new competition rules; limiting excessive mergers among the major entertainment companies; reduction of VAT on cultural products; and more investment in the independent cultural sector at national and European levels.

One part is to prompt action on finding solutions to illegal downloading and supports the French graduated response ('3 strikes and you are out') system, as it is the first nationally supported solution that seeks to provide alternatives to criminalising consumers.

As well as receiving support from many organisations wanting to sign the Declaration, it has already attracted considerable political interest and has been reported widely in the French and international press, including major television coverage, with France 2 for example dedicating a whole programme to the event.

To read the Independence Arena Declaration click here
Pour lire la Declaration en français cliquer ici


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