Insights European Parliament calls for new laws to improve working conditions for artists and cultural workers


In October 2023, two committees of the European Parliament published a Draft Report calling on the European Commission to legislate to improve working conditions for cultural and creative sector (“CCS”) workers. On 21 November, the European Parliament adopted a resolution with recommendations to the European Commission on an EU framework for the social and professional situation of artists and worker in the CCSs.

Like the earlier report, the Resolution points out that CCS workers are often self-employed, working in low paid jobs, on short-term contracts or cross-border. The living and working conditions of CCS workers can be precarious and unstable, with unpredictable incomes and weak or no rights to social protection benefits (e.g. healthcare, sickness, maternity, pensions and unemployment). Without cross-border portability of social protection benefits, which also vary between countries, sectors and types of work, CCS workers often face multiple payments of social and health insurance in several Member States, without being able to benefit from them.

The Resolution calls, amongst other things, for CCS workers to be granted a specific status under Member State laws (in countries where no such status exists), whether they are employed or self-employed, to ensure they can benefit from specific conditions attached to such status, and for a targeted EU act to promote access to a comprehensive and adequate social protection system, coordinated across the EU.

The Resolution also refers to abusive or coercive practices that may result in unfair contracts under which CCS workers agree to a buy-out of the rights in their works. This involves the creator waiving their rights in full or in part, in perpetuity, in exchange for a one-off payment, effectively eliminating the possibility of receiving future royalties for the use of their work. Focusing on the importance of ensuring that holders of copyright are fairly remunerated, the Resolution calls for Member States to ensure enforcement of the Copyright Directive, and for the Commission to commit to monitor the use of buy-out contracts, the prevention of undeclared work and the eradication of “bogus self-employment practices”.

The Resolution states that the CCS shows an above average exposure to intimidation and discrimination and calls on Member States to redouble efforts to eradicate sexual harassment and gender-based violence in the CCS. The Resolution calls on the Commission to develop a proactive strategic approach to anticipate the effect of automation on CCS jobs, and underlines the need to ensure that providers of generative AI make publicly available a sufficiently detailed summary of the training data they use which is protected by copyright. It calls on the Commission to guarantee artistic freedom as part of the working conditions for CCS workers.

Specifically, Parliament calls for new laws in the form of a Directive to enable the correct determination of a CCS worker’s employment status and the development of measures to improve their working conditions. Further, the Commission should issue one or more Decisions to implement further protections including those which would facilitate access to social protections (including facilitating coordination and portability across social protection systems) and improve the representation for, and the collective bargaining of, CCS workers.

The Resolution states that the Framework should cover all CCS professionals needed for the realisation of cultural and creative expressions and works. This could potentially include all those working, whether as a creator or in a technical or other role, in a potentially wide range of sectors such as architecture, archives and libraries, crafts, audiovisual (film, TV, video games), radio, music (recorded, live, festivals), fashion, performing arts, books, newspapers and visual arts.

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