The opportunities for the book sector under the new Creative Europe programme 2021-2027 were illustrated by the European Commission during a conference organised on 29 January in the framework of the Angouleme Rights Market, the professional programme of the Angouleme International Comics Festival. The event presented the initial results of EUDICOM, a project co-funded by Creative Europe in the field of comic books. The organisers therefore took the occasion to invite the Directorate General for Education and Culture of the Commission to outline the main novelties of the upcoming 7-year cycle of Creative Europe.

The Commission plans to launch the first calls under the new Creative Europe programme in April, following the adoption of the EU Multiannual Financial Framework. Discussions on the overall EU budget caused delays in the adoption of several specific programmes – among which Creative Europe – but at least, after difficult negotiations, the programme’s budget has been increased. For the 2021-2027 period, Creative Europe will have a total of around 2.4 billion EUR available to promote cultural and linguistic diversity and heritage and to increase the competitiveness of the cultural and creative sectors. The Commission considers these sectors’ competitiveness even more crucial now, given how severely the cultural and creative industries – and the book sector amid them – have been hit by the Covid-19 crisis.

As in the previous edition, the programme will comprise three strands: Culture, aimed at the different European cultural and creative sectors (with 804 million EUR); Media, for the European audio-visual industry (with 1.427 billion EUR); and a cross-sectoral strand, covering actions spanning several cultural and creative sectors, and support for a free, diverse, and pluralistic media environment (211 million EUR). Calls will support cultural cooperation projects, networks of professional organisations, platforms for the promotion of European artists and works, and projects for the translation and promotion of literature.

Several specific opportunities are available for the book sector under the individual strands of the programme, as exemplified by a series of current and past projects supported by Creative Europe (including Aldus and Aldus Up), especially in the domains of platforms and cooperation projects. Under the Culture strand, cooperation projects will cover creation – aiming to strengthen the transnational creation and circulation of European works – and innovation – aiming to enhance the capacity of the European cultural and creative sectors to nurture talents, to innovate, to prosper and to generate jobs and growth. Priorities focus on audience development, social inclusion, the environment and the green deal, new technology, internationalisation. Innovation is not just about inventing new things: it can be about proposing projects that help sectors or groups to apply innovative practices in their daily work.

One of the most relevant news for this edition, book sector-specific priorities can be addressed under the newly created book sector component of the Culture strand. The co-funding rate of cooperation projects will be increased to 80% (for grants up to 200,000 EUR), 70% (for those up to 2 million EUR) and 60% (for bigger grants).

Platforms are meant for the promotion of emerging artists, somehow with a B2C approach. They are meant to carry out Europe-wide programming of cultural and artistic activities, supporting the mobility and visibility of emerging European creators and artists, with attention to branding strategies. Networks are aimed at professional organisations, following more of a B2B model, and aim at reinforcing skills including the use digital technologies, promoting innovative approaches to audience development and new business and management models, as well as to strengthening international networking in order to facilitate access to professional opportunities. Not many have been established in the book sector so far, but the option is not precluded.

Creative Europe will maintain its support for literary translations in 2021-2027, with some improvements. These translation grants are meant to support the circulation of European literature. They shall cover the translation of European books, the promotion of translated works and also cooperation and collaboration between publishers, bookshops, festivals, and so on. The Commission helps translate some 400 books per year (literature, including comics); the novelty in the new Creative Europe programme is that there will be the possibility for publishers to apply jointly, for more ambitious projects – groups of publishers will be eligible, also from the same country, and will be able to present more ambitious projects.

Creative Europe will also help individual artists, in the fields of mobility for individuals working in the cultural and creative sectors and of establishing or improving collaborations, creating new work, developing audiences and so on. This component will be enlarged, provided the Covid-19 crisis allows it. The Commission will keep supporting the European Union Prize for Literature (EUPL), which puts emerging authors in the spotlight and helps their works to be translated more widely. Finally, there will be room for supporting synergies across sectors, in areas such as the discoverability of content, using digital platforms, and so on.