Encapsulating EU Cultural Policy into the EU's Growth and Competiveness Agenda: Explaining the Success of a Paradigmatic Shift in Brussels

Annabelle Littoz-Monnet


A new discourse, in which cultural policy is increasingly integrated into a policy agenda dealing with the promotion of creativity, innovation policy, and the fostering of growth and economic competitiveness more generally, has recently gained ground in Brussels. In December 2013, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union (Council) adopted the new Creative Europe programme (European Parliament and Council, 2013a). The European Commission (Commission) explained that the programme will enable the cultural and creative sectors, described as 'a major source of jobs and growth', 'to reach their potential so that they can contribute to the Europe 2020 goals for sustainable growth, jobs and social cohesion' (European Commission, 2014a). The new agenda differs quite radically from former European Union (EU) discourses on cultural policy, which laid the emphasis on culture as a key element in the definition process of regional, national and European identities. With the launch of the 'creativity frame', a clear paradigmatic change took place and economic concerns became the core of the justification for the EU's cultural policy. This chapter explains the drive behind this paradigmatic shift. It argues that the Commission's Directorate General for Education and Culture (DG EAC) initiated and promoted this policy agenda in an attempt to gain control over policy. The discourse DG EAC promoted was able to gain ground owing to a convergence of factors. DG EAC was able, first, to articulate a convincing link between economic 'problems' in the EU and culture as a potential 'solution'. This resonated well with a broader discursive framework, dominant in academic and policy circles, which upheld the knowledge economy and creativity as the cornerstones of all economic competitiveness strategies. Also, the characteristics of the 'creativity frame', sufficiently vague to appeal to diverging interests, made it an efficient tool of mobilisation of interests that were formerly opposed. Finally, the tenets of the discourse resonated well with the EU political and institutional context, in which market concerns and competiveness strategies are key.

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