Memo July 2014


A memo sent to correspondents, friends and acquaintances of the Budapest Observatory (BO) in July 2014

We begin with the roll call of a political body.

Oldest and most famous

Freedom for the hero of the Greek nation, Manolis Glezos! – called the forty-kopek Soviet post stamp in 1959, when the rebellious Greek was in prison for the fifth (and not the last) time in his life. The Acropolis in the background reminds of his brave act of resistance against Nazi invasion. Since July Glazos is set to serve the next five years in the European Parliament, and is sitting in the Committee on Culture and Education.


Gender balanced

42% of the 31-member committee that has just taken charge of culture in the newly elected European Parliament are women. This is higher than the 37% at the total of 751 MEPs (Members of European Parliament).

There are 32 substitute members, too, who are full members in different other committees: divided 16-16 by gender. Taken all 63 MEPs together, 46% of them are women, probably the highest among all parliamentary committees, which is the customary situation about culture.

The body is governed by a five-member Bureau, with a Chair and four Vice-Chairs. The female ratio in the fivesome that was elected for the first half of the five-year term is 80%.  

Five faces of the Bureau

The energetic German Christian Democrat is followed in the chair by an Italian lady, affiliated to the second largest political group, commonly called Socialists.

Two of her deputies are from the centre-right People’s Party, both from our region: the Czech Republic and Ukraine. Surprise, isn’t it? Andrea Bocskor lives in Berehove, which she and other Hungarians, the majority in the city, call Beregszász. Double citizenship allowed for her candidacy, and ultimately election to the European Parliament.

Helga Trüpel stands for continuity, as the German lady of the greens was vice-chair in the previous culture committee as well.   

The only man in the Bureau is no-nonsense: barred from joining a party list for the European elections, he decided to run as an independent and collected twice the necessary votes. He is a renowned actor, took an active part in the revolution that toppled Ceaușescu, and was culture minister of Romania – Mircea Diaconu.

The rest

The composition of the group reflects the general configuration of the Parliament, by geographical distribution, political alignment etc. Members include masters of the ball with foot and hand, representatives of Russian and Roma minorities, past ministers of education in Poland and Slovenia (and an Italian integration minister among the substitutes), not to speak of Bogdan Zdrojewski. Mayor of Wrocław between 1990-2001 and culture minister between 2007-2014, how could he escape being put in the Bureau?

These 31 people are key in establishing positions for culture in the European integration process in the next five years.

Publishing in the east

The broad, and somewhat clumsy definition of the mandate of the culture committee (“responsible for the cultural aspects of the European Union…”) implies also guardianship over the soundness of EU cultural programmes, and the value gained from money spent on them, important aspect in these unsettled times.

Should the Book Platform project get on the committee’s radar, it will certainly elicit satisfaction. The three-year action in the frame of the Eastern Partnership Culture Programme focused on the book sectors of Armenia, Georgia and Ukraine. Browsing the calendar from 2012 spring reveals the rich patchwork of activities, managed by the Sofia based centre with genuine commitment of the local staff. Involved in the closing conference, BO could ascertain on the spot about the importance of the project for the book sectors in the three countries. Helping to establish national translation grant agencies was part of the project: our past work did good service.

Supporting film festivals 

The call for proposals to the best known cultural grant scheme of the European Commission, that of the cooperation projects has been issued, for the first time in the new setting, as the culture sub-programme of Creative Europe. Deadline: 1 October. (That was a mistake. In fact the first call was already issued earlier.)

The audiovisual sub-programme (Media) has already completed a few calls. Winners of grants to film festivals were announced lately, to the satisfaction of the eastern member states. A bit over 40% of  the money came to the eleven post-communist countries, where a bit over 20% of the population of the European Union lives. Czechs and Croats were particularly successful:

Cinema statistics

By the way, why not take a look at the latest data of the European Audiovisual Observatory? To get amazed by the average Icelandic who chose the warmth of the cinema hall 4.7 times in 2013, versus the average Macedonian’s 0.1? Yes, cinema is still largely a western pastime.

Turks, who on the average went 0.7 times, left 58% of their money in the box office for a Turkish film – against 1% in case of Bosnia.