New Culture Commissioner Vassiliou to “strengthen the European Agenda for Culture”

15 January 2010

To make proposals to strengthen the European Agenda for Culture in its second phase is one of the priorities in the field of culture of the Culture Commissioner-Designate, Androulla Vassiliou. She underwent a three-hour scrutiny from the European Parliament’s Culture Committee on 14 January 2010. According to the press release of the European Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education Ms Vassiliou stressed: "We should make sure that every EU programme we apply has a direct impact on citizens' lives." Among her key priorities the Commissioner-designate highlighted the importance of strengthening education, increasing mobility opportunities for young people and creating an environment that promotes culture and creativity. One of the written questions – which each Commissioner-designate has to answer – asked: What aspects of your personal qualifications and experience are particularly relevant for becoming Commissioner and promoting the European general interest, particularly in the area you would be responsible for? Ms Vassiliou replied: “I am confident that my experience as a Member of Parliament in Cyprus, serving on both the European Affairs Committee and the Committee on Education and Culture in the course of my two terms of office have offered an invaluable exposure to the intricacies of European political affairs and equipped me with a solid understanding of issues which will now form part of my portfolio. As First Lady of Cyprus, I was also particularly involved in issues concerning education, youth and culture. For example, I set up the first Pan-Cyprian Organization for Music and Fine Arts and had a leading role in the enactment of a framework for the rights to education and vocational training for children with special needs.” Asked about her main priorities Ms Vassiliou said: “As Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth my principal concern will be to ensure that our citizens flourish in an inclusive, competitive and sustainable Union grounded in knowledge, energised by creativity and innovation, and drawing strength from its diversity. We need to build on those areas where we can make a difference in peoples' lives, bearing in mind the new possibilities that the Lisbon Treaty provides (…). I intend to focus on how to use our responsibilities in education to help meet citizens' current needs, and to ensure that education and training are tailored to the economy of the future; and how to promote our culture and diversity in a modern world. (…) Finally, in the area of Culture, I will work towards creating an environment where creativity, innovation and cultural expression can flourish, drawing on our cultural and linguistic richness and on the proven capacity of our creative industries to spur innovation and growth. Building these concerns into the digital agenda will be amongst my goals, in close cooperation with the responsible Commissioner. Our MEDIA programme is also an important vessel which carries European culture around the world and I intend to make use of all the opportunities it offers.” Relating to the question “What are the specific legislative and non-legislative initiatives you intend to put forward, and according to what timetable?” Ms Vassiliou stated: “To implement my priority on making better use of the potential of culture and the creative industries I will try within the first year of the mandate: • to respond to the Parliament’s request to strengthen the visibility for citizens of our shared cultural heritage and our shared European values by proposing to award European Heritage Labels to sites that are emblematic for the integration of Europe; • to promote a shared understanding of how to spur the potential for growth of Europe's cultural, creative and media industries including by contributing to work on the complex question of copyright protection; • to make proposals to strengthen the European Agenda for Culture in its second phase.” Related links and documents: • Hearings in the European ParliamentWritten answers sent by Androulla VassiliouEP Press Release: “Summary of hearing of Androulla Vassiliou”CV Androulla Vassiliou