EU | Status and working conditions in the creative sector

EU Commission logoThe DG EAC of the European Commission is publishing a study on workers in the European creative sector

According to the Commission, this study, commissioned from the European Expert Network on Culture and Audiovisual (EENCA), comes within the scope of objectives for the New European Agenda for Culture adopted in 2018. Among the aims is helping the Member States ensure fair remuneration for workers in the creative sector through social dialogue and the implementation of an ecosystem favourable to such workers. Efforts in this direction are currently being made by certain states within the scope of the Open Method of Coordination (OMC) with regard to status and working conditions for artists and cultural and creative professionals.

The study proposes both a situational analysis and a series of recommendations. Certain aspects deserve particular attention, given the extent to which they reflect the constant concerns of EAEA:
– The Covid-19 crisis has aggravated and revealed the great vulnerability of sector workers;
– Employment regimes are all too often complex and inconsistent;
– A great number of artists work as self-employed which results in precarious working conditions, an absence of regular income, limited access to social protection in comparison to salaried workers or unfavourable tax treatment;
– Many sector employees only have access to precarious contracts with low remunerations, forcing them to take on a second job;
– Low contractual cover brings about underpaid jobs and poor working conditions;
– An essential factor in the cultural sector, mobility encounters many obstacles;
– Women, young people and the disabled are particularly prone to precarious work;
– The freedom of artistic expression is coming under an increasing number of restrictions.

Faced with the reality of this situation, those drafting the study put forward several recommendations, in particular:
– Implementing European and national public funding to help the sector tackle the unprecedented threats with which it is currently confronted;
– Fairer working conditions, in particular via corrective mechanisms developed by the Member States and other segment stakeholders;
– Complete access to social protection for all workers, including the self-employed (Member States participating in the OMC have an important role to play);
– A solution to the conflict between competition law and fundamental social rights to ensure that the self-employed are not deprived of contractual protection (on this point, writers make an obscure and debatable reference to “sector organisations”, encouraging their participation in social dialogue, without pointing out that this, like collective bargaining, comes under the exclusive role of unions and employer bodies);
– A transposition of Directive 2019/790 (on copyright in the Digital Single Market) guaranteeing performers and authors real and significant remuneration for online use of their works and performances.

This document is being made public at the same time as the European Parliament is itself preparing a report on the status and working conditions of artists and creative workers and while the DG for Competition is getting ready to publish an impact assessment on resolving the conflict between competition law and access to collective bargaining for self-employed workers. We can hope that 2021 will see significant headway, where protecting the most vulnerable creative workers is concerned.