EWC is grateful for the financial support provided by:

The Association of Finnish Non-Fiction Writers (Finland)
The Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society-UK
The Swedish Writers’ Union
The Society of Swedish Authors in Finland
ProLitteris (Switzerland)
The Swedish Association for Educational Writers
Sanasto, the Finnish Authors’ Copyright Society 

Appeal by the Cultural World: "For a Europe Founded on its Culture" (July 2004)

 

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"Europe is an idea of man, long before the creation of a form of government"  (Giorgio Strehler)

Now that the European Union is welcoming ten new member states, we, artists and cultural leaders, wish to appeal to the leaders of the nations and governments, and to members and officials of the European Institutions .

Our world is facing a large crisis: the gap between rich and poor countries grows ever wider; hundreds of millions of people are living in intolerable conditions; there is profound inequality within the developed countries; the ecological future of our planet appears very gloomy; the proliferation of terrorism and the recourse to violence enhance insecurity. In many countries religious fundamentalism smothers all freedom of thought. Far from resolving those problems, war only adds fuel to the flames.

The world has the right to expect the European Union to constitute a power to be reckoned with, that speaks with one voice and that is listened to as a moral authority. Clearly, Europe does not play a central role in the world order.. It maintains the illusion that the Union serves first and foremost an economic and monetary purpose. It seems cut off from its past and swayed by blind forces, when it should manifest itself as a project solidly rooted in its heritage.

Of course, a European Constitution is soon to be approved, general elections are being held for the European Parliament, citizens are granted appeal against their own country’s arbitrariness, and research that has begun at one European university that can be continued at another. All this is of considerable positive consequence. And yet it meets with almost total indifference of European citizens. It is as if Europe was unable to understand the sense of itself, or to prove itself as something more than a supranational bureaucracy.

As European citizens we are all heirs to Homer and Virgil, Van Eyck and Michelangelo, Shakespeare and Cervantes, Bach et Mozart, Chopin and Liszt, Flaubert and Kafka, Eisenstein and Bergman. Their art has fashioned a culture which passes on to us a common past and common points of reference, and which has contributed to the birth of democratic values. This European identity that we all share came into being long before the political construction of modern Europe.. For centuries, artistic and cultural exchange have ignored national frontiers and language barriers, and have helped to surmount divides and heal the wounds inflicted by the bloodiest conflicts.

It is our duty today to pass on this heritage to future generations, to foster it and make it richer yet. Democracy cannot be limited to mere institutions, not even to a mode of organisation. It is weakened when not inspired by mind, art and research. If the Europe of production and consumption were to dominate Europe as a civilization, if Europe as a common market were to replace Europe as a political and cultural project , the present global crisis might culminate in a clash between the forces of fundamentalism and those of materialism. This clash would be as traumatic and devastating as the worst scourges that have hit humanity during the last century.

For these reasons:

1° We call upon the heads of state and of governments of the 25 member states to adopt a European Constitution that is a genuine civilization project, founded on our cultural heritage and on our shared values of democracy, liberty, respect for human rights and for human dignity. Economic targets should in this respect be regarded as means, and not as ends in themselves.

2° We ask the governments of the 25 member states and the European Institutions to give proof of their genuine common political will to launch an ambitious European project capable of cementing a European cultural identity that reflects both unity and diversity. The whole of Europe should become a living space, vibrant with creation and exchange, fuelling the circulation of ideas and works of their creative artists..

3° We are aware that certain projects which are indispensable for reinforcing the European Union will not immediately rally the support of all the member states. That is why we summon those countries most committed to the process of unification to foster new, daring and federalizing initiatives that will develop and enhance the European cause, especially its cultural dimension. Likewise, we call upon the artists and cultural leaders to play an active and prominent role in supporting a Europe of culture and of different cultures .

Strengthening the unity of Europe in this manner by no means thwarts cultural diversity. Quite the contrary: it has to protect and reinforce this diversity. Moreover, a genuine common ambition is indispensable to ward off the upsurge of nationalism and clashes between communities across our continent. The same holds for the world as a whole: in the dialogue between cultures, which the entire planet desperately needs . Today Europe must realise the role it alone can fulfil . We have a moral and historical obligation.

www.lamonnaie.be
www.ietm.org
www.efah.org 

Greek Presidency 2003: European Conference “What future for European Books? Books and the book market in the enlarged European Union” (April 2003)

 

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Athens, 10 & 11 April 2003

RESOLUTION

The participants of the Conference, namely more than 150 key actors in the European book industry (authors, translators, publishers, booksellers, librarians) and representatives of ministries and institutions involved in the book sector, addressed the main book policy issues presently pending in the enlarged European Union.

The following principles were agreed upon and are hereby communicated to the Council of Ministers, the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Cultural Affairs Committee:

- The role of culture in the European Union as defined in Article 151 paragraph 4 of the Treaty, namely “the obligation of the Community to take cultural aspects into account in its actions under the provisions of the Treaty, in particular in order to respect and to promote the diversity of cultures” should be actively applied within the policies adopted by the European Union and strengthened within the discussions on the institutional and political future of the Union carried out by the European Convention.
In this context, the cultural and creative industries and, in particular, the book industry, must find adequate treatment and a place within other European policies, such as education, employment and creation of new employment opportunities, the information society and new technologies programmes, competition rules, e.t.c.

-The European Union must have a more ambitious policy for books and reading and should not restrict itself to the modestly funded Culture 2000 programme. It is essential to recognize both the cultural and economic significance of the book sector, which represents on the publishing side an estimated 20 billion Euro turnover in 2001 (i.e. higher than that of the audiovisual and the music sector), more than 25.000 booksellers in the E.U., as well as more than 54.000 writers and translators represented in the European Writers Congress organizations.

-The European institutions should welcome and enhance the production of reliable and comparable statistics in the fields of book publishing-including translation-, bookselling, jobs & employment, public spending on books, literacy, reading skills, reading practices and library lending statistics. Production of statistics is vital in order to show the importance of books in the European Society and to be able to support specific measures to be taken by the European institutions. Harmonization of the research activities can be ensured through the enhancement of the important work carried out by Eurostat.

-Specific action lines for “books and reading” have been drafted in the Culture 2000 programme budget in 2003 and should be retained. The programme should finance useful and valuable initiatives in favour of the promotion of reading and books, involving actors from the whole book community, including creators i.e. writers, literary translators and illustrators, publishers, booksellers and librarians. Actions concerning the cultural industries should be included in pilot projects. The above projects should also support the promotion of European books in the International Rights markets, through the participation in Book Fairs outside the EU.

-Translation plays a key role in the promotion and free circulation of ideas and literature within the enlarged European Union and should be continuously supported through both European and national appropriate programmes.

-Amongst the highest priorities for the European book sector is the promotion of reading. It is vital to finance relevant initiatives, mainly reading campaigns and programmes on reading skills. A specific European action plan of substantial investment in literacy would give the best long term return to the European Economy.

-Authors, publishers, booksellers, librarians and other stakeholders should be consulted in the drafting of the e- content and other information society programmes, as these programmes offer opportunities to produce and disseminate cultural content and they affect indeed the future of the book sector.

- It is essential, especially for the new EU member states, to find financing for education and training skills in writing, translating, editing, design, production and marketing of books and published texts in printed and digital form through the European educational and training programmes.

- An accurate and up to date definition of the “book”, which will take into consideration that the crucial element to be protected is the content and not the form, needs to be worked out as such a definition would be vital for political decisions, like VAT rates, fixed book prices, intellectual property protection.

-The dual nature of books as both cultural and economic goods, must be taken into account, when commercial and economic regulations are at stake. It is important to recognize and leave untouched national and european measures in favour of the promotion of books. In this context, books, in whatever form, should be taxed at the lowest possible VAT rate. National provisions on systems of fixed book prices, where they exist on the basis of the principle of subsidiarity, should be respected and not circumvented by other European regulations.

An Authors’ Open Letter to the European Parliament, the European Commission and the European Council (February 2004)

 

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Brussels, 6th February 2004

We the undersigned, representing creators in all the media throughout Europe, and having regard to the spread of digital technology and globalisation, urge you, our legislators and administrators, to take into full consideration in every sphere of your activity, the implementation of the spirit and letter of Article 151.4 of the Treaty of Amsterdam requiring an awareness of and support for the intellectual and cultural wealth of the European Union.

Such, we believe, can only be achieved by a recognition of the fundamental role of the creators as the indispensable basis for the media industries which now provide 6  of European GDP and employment for millions throughout the Member States in bringing the products of the individual creator's skill and imagination before the public.

Historically Europe has been both the cultural reservoir and the seedbed of the modern world. Traditionally our development of Author's Rights legislation has ensured the conditions in which the unique European contribution of innovative diversity has been able to thrive and find its audience, its opportunity to influence minds and lives.

Now however our cultural heritage and future in all their multi-facetted expression are under threat from that corporate homogenisation, made easier by the misuse of new technology, which stems from the unreflecting and unmitigated adoption of the doctrine of the supremacy of market forces and their ability alone to provide all that is necessary for the human body and spirit.

Only by continuing to support the creators, always the weaker bargaining party, in their struggle to maintain the principle of creative diversity, can you, our legislators, ensure freedom of creation and expression, a true choice for the consumer and a future for the continuing European contribution to global
culture which is too important to be left to corporate accounting.

As you support the physical environment in all its richness and diversity so we urge you to support its intellectual and cultural counterpart by protecting
authors' rights and their livelihood against the abuse and impoverishment of individual creators and their works.


On behalf of the EWC Board: Maureen Duffy, President,
Hans Peter Bleuel, Anastassis Vistonitis, Vice Presidents


Prominent Authors Signatories
Günter Grass / D
Märta Tikkanen / FIN Claes Andersson / FIN
Vassili Vassilikos / GR
Kerstin Ekman / S Annika Thon / S
Torgny Lindgren / S Majgull Axelsson / S
Antony Beevor / UK Philip Pullman / UK David Ferguson / UK

JOINT LETTER TO THE MEMBERS OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT’S COMMITTEE ON CULTURE BY EWC AND FEP (November 2000)

 

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November 28, 2000

Dear Madam, dear Sir,

The European Writers’ Congress / EWC, the Federation of 49 organisations in 26 countries of Europe representing some 50.000 professional writers and literary translators, gratefully acknowledges the moral and financial support received from the members of the Committee on Culture in the past. The Federation of European Publishers /FEP represents national book publishers associations in the Fifteen Member States and Norway.

We would greatly stress that authors and publishers of course have a positive approach to the public services provided by national and other libraries. However, we are dismayed that on the occasion of your discussion of the O’Toole report on “New frontiers in book publishing:
Electronic publishing and print on demand” the reassuring impression was conveyed that the authors in Europe agree with the proposals of the Council of Europe in this matter. In fact the exact opposite is correct. In particular the proposal to create an automatic link between the issue of legal deposit and the exceptions to authors’ rights provided by the proposed Directive on “Harmonisation of … Copyright … in the Information Society” is potentially devastating to the rights and livelihoods of authors – and therefore to the health of European culture.

Much to our regret we have to realize that apparently it was not explained to the Committee on Culture that neither the EWC nor the FEP nor any other representatives of creators in Europe were given an adequate opportunity to contribute to or approve the “Guidelines” put forward by the Council of Europe’s Electronic Publishing, Books and Archives Department – which have been, by the way, rejected by the European Ministers of Culture meeting at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2000.

Writers and book publishers in Europe should like to draw your attention to four facts:

- it never was the European legislator’s intention to change the role of national libraries into Reproduction Rights Organisations or Copyright Clearance Centres,

- this is an extremely dangerous attempt to undermine the results of some five years of negotiations in order to find a common way of protecting copyright & related rights and users’ rights in the information society,

- there is no need at all for the great libraries of Europe to be given the power to bypass authors’ rights

- it was never the ambition for legal deposit to replace traditional networks of books distribution and it should not be so in the future.

From the writers to the booksellers (either physical or online) through the publishers and libraries, every link in the book chain is crucial and needs to be maintained. Therefore, we ask you to support it in its entirety and not to deprive writers and publishers from their revenues by simply offering a compensation which, we all know, is too often derisory.

Legal deposit should not be connected with copyright legislation.
For your information we attach the European Creators’ STRASBOURG RESOLUTION in English, French and German, adopted on November 16, 2000 and thank you very much indeed for taking into consideration the arguments of authors and publishers in Europe before finalising the EP position on the O’Toole report.

We are at your entire disposal to further explain our position on this essential issue.

Yours sincerely,
Lore Schultz-Wild Mechthild von Alemann
General Secretary EWC Director FEP

Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) and the New Transatlantic Market (NTM) (August 1998)

 

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On the occasion of the XVI European Writers’ Congress, held in Stockholm, August 28-30, 1998, the following resolution was adopted unanimously:

The European Writers’ Congress intends to defend the concept of the author, a natural person and possessor of rights, which represents a crucial guarantee for ?? ?????? ???????? ????????? ???????? the future freedom of pluralistic expression, of ideas and the diversity of cultures.

The EWC deplores the fact that the care of literary and artistic property, which implies the necessary respect of authors’ moral and patrimonial rights, can be turned to the profit of the investors in such an arrogant and one-sided manner.

The EWC unequivocally rejects the inclusion, in any form, of cultural goods and services protected by the Berne Convention in the MAI negotiations and/or those of the NTM.