HC Deb 11 June 2002 vol 386 cc1168-9W
Mr. Hood

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the outcome was of the Culture and Audiovisual Council held in Brussels on 23 May; what the Government's stance was on the issues discussed, including their voting record; and if she will make a statement. [60491]

Dr. Howells

The culture and audiovisual Council held in Brussels on 23 May discussed future EU cultural co-operation, the preservation of digital content for future generations and proposals to revise the Directive on "Television Without Frontiers". A lunchtime discussion addressed the role of private sector cultural sponsorship.

Resolutions were agreed by unanimity on a work plan for future EU cultural co-operation and on the importance of ensuring that digital content is preserved so as to be accessible by future generations.

Discussions on the future of the current framework programme for cultural co-operation—Culture 2000—were of a preliminary nature only and there was no vote. The UK view was that the existing programme should be extended in order to allow sufficient time to review its impact to date and to discuss its successor. The Commission has agreed to produce a report on the existing scheme by the end of 2002 and will also put forward a number of proposals for further discussion.

All delegations agreed that the review of the "Television Without Frontiers" Directive should be preceded by detailed debate and reflection and the Commission agreed to produce a work programme by the end of 2002. There was no formal vote. The priority for the UK will be to ensure that discussions on the review of the Directive take into account the provisions outlined in the draft communications Bill, published by my Department earlier this month.

The lunchtime discussion reiterated the importance of private sector cultural sponsorship and it was agreed that Member States should discuss ways of sharing experiences and agreeing best practice. This was an informal discussion and there was no vote. The UK fully supported the outcome of the debate.

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