European policy context for creative industries

1. European creative industries

Creative Industries account for 3 % of the total employment in the European Union.”

In European countries, the term ‘creative industries’ as a field for policy-making was first introduced by the UK’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in 1998, to denote ‘those industries that have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent and that have a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property’. The significant size of the creative industries and the fast rate at which it has grown over the last two decades has aroused considerable interest among policymakers at national, regional, and international levels, in particular among those concerned with urban planning, regional development, labour market and education policies and, more recently, innovation policy.” (European Commission: ‘European Competitiveness Report 2010: An integrated Industrial Policy for the Globalisation Era Putting Competitiveness and Sustainability at Front Stage.’, Brussels 2010, page 163)

In quantitative terms, the economic performance of the creative industries is impressive: The cultural and creative sectors account for 3.3% of the European Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Creative industries companies employ 6.7 million people (3 % of total employment in the European Union). “Between 2008 and 2011, employment in the cultural and creative sectors proved more resilient than in the EU economy as a whole with growth rates varying however between subsectors. This tendency is all the more interesting because some sectors have a higher percentage of youth employment than the rest of the economy.” (European Commission: ‘Promoting cultural and creative sectors for growth and jobs in the EU’, Brussels 2012, page 2)

But what makes creative industries different from other branches and sectors of the economy?

Creative industries have several characteristics in common:

  • Most of the firms are small (employing fewer than 10 people) and most of the workers are highly skilled self-employed professionals.
  • In addition, many people within the creative industries work part time and/or have temporary contracts.
  • Creative industries also often feature a high degree of networking, an intensive supply chain and other inter-firm linkages, and are concentrated in major cities.” (European Commission: ‘European Competitiveness Report 2010: An integrated Industrial Policy for the Globalisation Era Putting Competitiveness and Sustainability at Front Stage.’, Brussels 2010, page 163)
  • Policy considerations have recently also shifted to the creative industries located outside of large metropolises and to the role they could play as a regional development factor. (For example creative wirtschaft austria: ‘Fünfter Österreichischer Kreativwirtschaftsbericht: Schwerpunkt Kreativwirtschaft als regionaler Faktor’, Wien 2013)

Furthermore, creative industries policymakers should be aware of some of the main drivers of the creative industries (European Commission:’European Competitiveness Report 2010: An integrated Industrial Policy for the Globalisation Era Putting Competitiveness and Sustainability at Front Stage.“, Brussels 2010, page 168 ff):

  • On the supply side, well-educated and skilled workers are the key resource in the creative economy.
  • Other factors include the rapid advance of digital technologies, the globalisation of networks and the deregulation of media. The Internet has created new distribution channels and business models.
  • In addition, there is a significant link between the increase in broadband penetration and the increase in the employment share of creative industries across Member States.
  • The demand-side factors include the increase in available free time and disposable household income.

Based on several studies and analysis to better quantify and understand the creative industries, the systematic policy-making on Creative Industries within European level initiatives started in 2010 with the green paper ‘Unlocking the potential of cultural and creative industries’ (Brussels 2010) – a European Commission discussion document summarising some of the most pressing policy challenges for creative industries.

Although the cultural and creative sector has indeed demonstrated its relevance for growth and employment, several policy challenges need to be addressed in order to fully benefit from the creative potential in Europe:

  • The skills provided from professionals employed in the creative industries have to better match the needs of creative companies.
  • Appropriate access to funding has to be provided.
  • Cultural exchanges and international trade should be promoted.
  • The local and regional dimension of the creative industries is being addressed and should be better interlinked with EU regional policy.
  • New adapted spaces and platforms for creativity and entrepreneurship should be created.
  • The creation of spill-over effects should be encouraged.

Since 2010, some major European policy-making and policy support initiatives have been developed. They focus on several of these creative industries challenges:

EU policy initiativePriority CCI topics addressed

Working Group of EU Member States Experts (OMC) on Cultural and Creative Industries

(1) Strategic use of EU support programmes, including structural funds, to foster the potential of culture for local and regional development and the spill-over effects of CCIs on the wider economy

(2) CCI export and internationalisation support strategies

(3) Good practices on financial engineering for SMEs in cultural and creative industries

European Creative Industries Alliance including the setting up of a policy learning platform

(1) Innovation support (through voucher schemes)

(2) Access to finance (new financing sources including crowd funding and guarantee funds)

(3) Cluster excellence and cooperation (new approaches for creative cluster management and optimisation of cross-sectoral linkages)

(4) European Creative Districts (supporting traditional industrial regions in their transition from a traditional economy with strong ‘heritage’ value and cultural identity to a sustainable and innovative economy)

European Design Innovation Initiative including the establishment of a European Design Leadership Board

(1) Integration of design as a driver for user-driven innovation into innovation policy and related policies

(2) Raising awareness of design and user-driven innovation to unlock its full potential among stakeholders in all Member States including types of companies and education professionals

Moreover, the European Commission has devoted attention to the potential of the European fashion industry, and the URBACT II programme – financed by ERDF – has also addressed the topic of innovation and creativity within a thematic cluster.

2. What is the added value of interregional cooperation for CCI policy-making?

Creative industries policy-making clearly takes place in many European cities and regions at the same time. Innovative policy tools are being developed and merit being disseminated for the benefit of all regions. The INTERREG IVC programme allows local and regional authorities to gain insight into the designing as well as the implementing of CCI practices and policies. The interregional learning and exchange of experience networks provide a 3-year framework designed to facilitate the transfer of creative practice from a region to one or several partner cities and regions.

Several transnational and interregional programmes cover the topic of CCIs (e.g. INTERREG IVB Central Europe, INTERREG IVB North West Europe). In the context of the INTERREG IVC programme, a considerable number of multiannual interregional partnerships are already showing attention to the topic of creative industries reflecting a Europe-wide interest for these sectors with high-growth potential. The programme provides a financial framework for experience-exchange platforms and for enhancing reciprocal learning between local and regional authorities. Good practice is transferred between partners and informs EU regional policy-making. On a national and regional level, ERDF and ESF funds are used to implement strategies for the creative industries (e. g. Creative Estonia)

3. Future EU policies addressing the creative industries

The creative industries have been included in EU regional policy (2014-2020) identifying the CCIs as those that are able to:

  • boost local economies,
  • stimulate new activities,
  • create new and sustainable jobs, and
  • generate spill-over effects for other industries.

Creative industries are therefore catalysts for structural change in many industrial zones and rural areas with the potential to rejuvenate their economies and contribute to a change of the public image of regions. They should be integrated into regional development strategies in order to ensure an effective partnership between civil society, businesses and public authorities at regional, national, and European levels.” (European Commission: Communication ‘Regional Policy contributing to smart growth in Europe 2020’, Brussels 2010, page 8)

The proposals for a new EU regional policy (2014-2020) have therefore taken account of creative industries and include several thematic priorities addressing key CCI challenges (18):

  • strengthening research, technological development and innovation;(19)
  • enhancing access to, use of and quality of information and communication technologies;
  • enhancing the competitiveness of SMEs;
  • promoting employment and supporting labour mobility.

Further policy fields and EU funding mechanisms are of relevance for the creative industries:

  • The proposal for the Creative Europe programme (2014-2020) includes a new innovative financial instrument for the CCIs
  • The COSME programme (Programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and SMEs 2014-2020) aims at supporting new and existing entrepreneurs and SMEs with measures designed to: facilitate access to finance, encourage entrepreneurship, support the internationalisation of SMEs
  • HORIZON 2020 the EU framework programme for research and innovation, includes funding measures to support all forms of innovation in SMEs and aims at encouraging multi-disciplinary collaborations (including international participation) with a view to tackling societal challenges.

It will be up to policymakers and creative industries stakeholders to integrate and to make best use of creative industries through these programmes as well as in the context of the new EU regional policy (2014-2020).

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