Although the Treaty of Rome had not provided for any action in the cultural field, some measures in this field were taken already in the 1980s, in particular: the annual naming of a European "cultural capital" [Resolution]; the agreement on special entry conditions to museums and cultural events for young people [Resolution]; and the creation of transnational cultural itineraries [Resolution]. An EU action lays down the procedure for designating the European Capitals of culture for the period 2020 to 2023 [Decision 1419/1999 and Decision 445/2014].
Culture was brought fully into the action scope of the EC/EU through the [Treaty of Maastricht. The common cultural policy does not aim at any harmonisation of the cultural identities of the Member States, but, on the contrary, at the conservation of their diversity. Article 3 of the treaty on the European Union declares, in fact, that the Union shall respect its rich cultural and linguistic diversity, and shall ensure that Europe's cultural heritage is safeguarded and enhanced. Article 167 of the Treaty on the functioning of the EU (ex-Article 151 TEC) states that the Union should contribute to the flowering of the cultures of the Member States, while respecting their national and regional diversity and at the same time bringing the common cultural heritage to the fore. Its action aims at encouraging cooperation between Member States and, if necessary, supporting and supplementing their action in the following areas: improvement of the knowledge and dissemination of the culture and history of the European peoples; conservation and safeguarding of cultural heritage of European significance; non-commercial cultural exchanges; artistic and literary creation, including in the audiovisual sector.
In order to contribute to the achievement of these objectives the European Parliament and the Council acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure and after consulting the Committee of the Regions, may adopt incentive measures, excluding any harmonisation of the laws and regulations of the Member States. The Council, on a proposal from the Commission, may also adopt recommendations. The Union should take cultural aspects into account in its action under other provisions of the Treaties, in particular in order to respect and to promote the diversity of its cultures (Article 167 TFEU). The Council shall act unanimously for the negotiation and conclusion of commercial agreements in the field of trade in cultural and audiovisual services, where these agreements risk prejudicing the Union's cultural and linguistic diversity (Article 207 TFEU).
The Creative Europe Programme (2014 to 2020) aspires to support the European cultural and creative sectors [Regulation 1295/2013]. It has two main objectives: (a) to safeguard, develop and promote European cultural and linguistic diversity and to promote Europe's cultural heritage;; and (b) to strengthen the competitiveness of the European cultural and creative sectors, in particular of the audiovisual sector, with a view to promoting smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. The priorities of the Culture Sub-programme are; (a) supporting actions providing cultural and creative players with skills, competences and know-how that contribute to strengthening the cultural and creative sectors, including encouraging adaptation to digital technologies, testing innovative approaches to audience development and testing new business and management models; (b) supporting actions enabling cultural and creative players to cooperate internationally and to internationalise their careers and activities in the Union and beyond, where possible on the basis of long-term strategies; and (c) providing support to strengthen European cultural and creative organisations and international networking in order to facilitate access to professional opportunities.
The European Union must strike a balance between the objectives arising from the completion of the internal market and those relating to the protection of the national heritage. In fact, a Council Regulation subjects the export outside the EU of cultural goods of artistic, historical or archaeological value to an export licence issued by the Member State on whose territory it is lawfully located [Regulation 116/2009]. In the same vein, a Directive provides for the return of cultural objects, classified or defined by a Member State as being among national treasures, which have been unlawfully removed from the territory of that Member State, on or after 1 January 1993 [Directive 2014/60]. It notably establishes a judicial procedure for the return of cultural objects and cooperation between the competent authorities of the Member States.
A rigorous, effective system for the protection of copyright and related rights is one of the main ways of ensuring that European cultural creativity and production receive the necessary resources and of safeguarding the independence and dignity of artistic creators and performers [see also sections 6.2.4 and 23.4]. Therefore, copyright is protected at European Union level by a Directive that harmonises the term of copyright at 70 years after the death of the author in the case of literary, artistic, cinematographic or audiovisual works [Directive 2006/116]. For the last two categories, calculation of the term of protection begins after the death of the last of the persons to survive from among the principal director, the author of the screenplay, the author of the dialogue and the composer of the music. The same Directive harmonises at 50 years the term of protection of the main related rights (those of performers, producers of phonograms or of films and broadcasting organisations). It also provides collective and obligatory management of the rights for cable retransmission through collective societies representing the various categories of rightholders.
A Directive recognises the "resale right" as an intellectual property right of the author of an original work of art and enables the author and her or his heirs to receive a royalty based on the sale price obtained for any resale of the work by auction houses, art galleries or any other art dealer [Directive 2001/84]. Another Directive provides protection for both paper-based and electronic databases for a period of 15 years from their completion, so as to create an attractive environment for investment in them while preserving the interests of users [Directive 96/9]. The EC/EU is a contracting party in the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Copyright Treaty and in the Performances and Phonograms Treaty [Decision 2000/278]. These Treaties help to guarantee a high level of protection of works while permitting public access to contents which might be transmitted via the Internet, for example [see also section 6.2.4]. The rental and lending of copyright works, notably phonograms and films, and the subject matter of related rights are also protected [Directive 2006/115]. A directive engages Member States to protect computer programs, by copyright, as literary works within the meaning of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works [Directive 91/250, consolidated version 19.11.1993 and Directive 2006/116].
The creation of the European digital library Europeana, which is an online multilingual access point to digital cultural material from the whole of Europe (books, newspapers, photographs, films and audiovisual works, documents from archives, museum works, architectural and archaeological heritage, etc.) provides an excellent opportunity to showcase the cultural heritage of the Member States, as well as to increase access to, and knowledge of, that heritage [Council conclusions].
Emphasising that conservation of cinema heritage can play a decisive role in consolidating the cultural identity of European countries, the Council has called on the Member States to cooperate in the following areas: participation in a transnational study on the situation regarding European cinema archives; stepping up the exchange of experience, knowledge and good practice; encouraging the progressive networking of European archival databases; and the possible use of these collections for educational and scientific purposes and for purposes specific to archives [Resolution]. On its part, the Commission has clarified certain legal aspects relating to cinematographic and other audiovisual works and in particular the specific compatibility criteria for national aid to film and television production [COM/2001/534 and COM/2004/171].
Since the late 1980s, the EC/EU is promoting books and reading [Resolution]. Other permanent cultural activities of the European Commission concern: encouragement of the cooperation between foundations promoting art and culture (patronage); support for a growing number of training grants and for cultural and artistic projects throughout the European Union; an annual operation under which financial aid is granted to projects for the preservation and promotion of Europe's architectural heritage selected by a European jury. The Athens Parthenon, the cathedral of Aix-la-Chapelle and the Forum Romanum in Rome are among those already granted aid. The EU encourages European artistic and cultural creation, cultural events, cultural exchanges and other projects involving all artistic disciplines. It also supports a number of high-profile activities of which the best known are the Youth Orchestra and the Baroque Orchestra of the European Community.