Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin, Minister of Culture, welcomed her European counterparts to Angers on 7 and 8 March, as well as Věra Jourová, Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner responsible for Values and Transparency, Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal Market and Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, for an informal meeting of Ministers of the Member States of the European Union responsible for culture and media, in the framework of the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The Minister wished, in response to the unprovoked and unjustified military aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, to modify the program of the meeting and propose to her counterparts a time for discussion on the situation in Ukraine.

Oleksandr Tkachenko, Ukraine’s Minister of Culture and Information Policy, spoke at a video conference where European ministers of culture and media expressed their solidarity with Ukraine.

At the end of their exchanges, and in the presence of the European Commission, they adopted a declaration by the European Ministers of Culture and Media to express their support for Ukraine and its people, and in particular with artists, Ukrainian journalists and media and cultural professionals. In this statement, the ministers also expressed their deep concern at the threats and serious damage to Ukraine’s rich museum, monumental and urban heritage.

The informal meeting was the second opportunity to reaffirm the common will of all Member States to act at European level so that ambitious European policies in favour of the sustainability of the media and the diversity of online cultural content, on the one hand, and the enhancement of heritage, on the other, be strengthened and strengthened.

During the first day of work, ministers and Commissioners discussed their vision of the future of media in Europe and ways to strengthen cultural diversity on the Internet. A second day of exchanges allowed to address the new challenges of policies of protection and valorization of the heritage.

Future of media and strengthening cultural diversity

The digital revolution has changed the relationship between information and access to cultural content for citizens, creating supply opportunities, but also posing economic, social and political challenges.

It was in this context that the ministers exchanged, during a first working session, on the future of the media and on the strengthening of cultural diversity.

They discussed the role that states and the European Union could play in consolidating the economic model of the media, bearing in mind the objectives of pluralism and media independence. They were able to agree on the importance of restoring public confidence in the media through various actions, such as strengthening the transparency of media ownership and media and information literacy.

In a context of hyper-abundance of cultural content on-line, the ministers discussed the means to be implemented to promote the discoverability of European cultural content, that is, their online availability but also their ability to be detected. These will help to strengthen European cultural diversity online.

New European challenges for heritage protection and development policies

At a second working session, the Ministers discussed heritage issues from two angles: on the one hand, the fight at European level against the illicit trafficking of cultural property and, on the other hand, issues related to the enhancement of heritage.

The Ministers agreed on the need to have, at European level, more effective concrete means to strengthen the fight against illicit trafficking in cultural property, notably through interoperability and the pooling of technical means, through the creation of a penal component to combat organised crime in an appropriate way and by strengthening cooperation between all the actors involved (museums, art market and public authorities).

The ministers also discussed issues related to the enhancement of European heritage, notably through digital technology. This challenge must be based on a qualitative digitization enriched with content, which must be accessible to all. They agreed on the challenge of creating a common data area on cultural heritage, supported by the Europeana digital library.

They also had the opportunity to discuss ways of strengthening the European Heritage Label, the aim of which is to help strengthen the citizens' sense of belonging to the European Union, and the awareness of a shared history, heritage and values.

On the occasion of this working session, the ministers affirmed their commitment to ensure the safeguarding of Ukrainian cultural heritage, in conjunction with international organizations.