Meeting Report from the EuroFIA Hamburg: June 11th-13th 2019

EuroFIA News

The EuroFIA group was received in Hamburg by its four German affiliates: GDBA; VdO; BFFS and ver.di who extended a warm welcome to delegates and took the opportunity over the course of the meeting to share some interesting examples and recent practice from Germany. The meeting was opened by keynote speaker Helga Trüpel, long-time Green MEP, active in the European Parliament’s CULT committee and known in FIA for her strong defense of performers in the context of the recent European Copyright Reform. She was warmly welcomed by the EuroFIA group. She began by recalling some of the key aspects of the political positioning and interest-driven campaigning in the run up to that reform, noting that while the aim was not to weaken or abolish copyright, there were pirates who had this agenda. The aim was sustainable cultural production with an established framework and a fair set of fees. In the end, the compromise is well-founded and it was based on the widest group of stakeholders. She also shared three concluding reflections: there is a shift towards a possible anti-trust stance on the internet giants, including in the US, which may open the path to better regulation. In that regard, it is vital to always combine freedom and responsibility. The guiding principle of the rule of law has to be online too and this must be central in the future debate.

The annual one-day meeting between EuroFIA unions and Collecting societies representing Audiovisual performers also took place on the 12th of June, kindly hosted by German Collecting Society GVL, represented by Tilo Gerlach. Unsurprisingly, the bulk of the meeting was dedicated to the new European Directive on Copyright and the potential that it may offer for performers. There was an indepth exchange on several aspects, including the notion of “transparent and proportionate remuneration”; the contract adjustment mechanism; the transparency obligation; and the right of revocation. The group also enjoyed a detailed briefing on the new Directive on Television and Radio programmes and closed with a session on the future of the extension of the term of protection for Audiovisual performers also. Many challenges lie ahead in relation to the implementation of the Copyright Directive at national level and unions and collecting societies should work closely together to ensure the best outcomes for performers.

The EuroFIA group meeting included several inspiring thematic panels. There was an exchange focusing on collective bargaining in the commercial part of the Live Performance sector and the approach taken, and gains made, by unions in different countries. Also in relation to Live Performance, there was a panel discussion of the recent ECJ ruling in the Sciotto case regarding the chaining of short-term artistic contracts. This discussion examined how exceptions to the fixed term work directive in the artistic sector have been approached and framed in different countries and the implications that these have had. Additional panels over the two days explored recent developments in relation to SVOD platforms and work to develop an industrial relationship with them; as well as the ongoing work within EuroFIA on issues pertaining to the clash between competition rules and collective bargaining. Finally, there was also a panel, moderated by Ferne Downey, President of FIA (who joined the EuroFIA group for their meeting), focused on new union initiatives to combat sexual harassment, including an update on the work of FIA’s Sexual Harassment working group.

EuroFIA was pleased to welcome two keynote speakers from Germany: one was Norbert Hunneke, from ZAV, which is the German public unemployment office Casting Agency. This initiative has developed into respected and popular casting agency that is a good route to employment for actors looking for work, as well as a source of career and skills development advice. The second keynote speaker was Lars Stubbe from ver.di, who gave an inspiring presentation on the threats to Public Service Broadcasting in Europe and the need for unions to be active in its defence. He recalled that in 2018, the EU Human Rights Commissioner issued important guidelines on prerequisites for Public Service Broadcasting, as an essential for democracy and pluralistic communication. Unions have a role in defending them, as good employers, but also as a piece of the picture on democracy in society generally.

One motion was submitted to the EuroFIA group at its Hamburg meeting, calling for support to the Actors Union of Turkey (AUT) in its struggles to maintain freedom of artistic expression in the theatre sector in Turkey. AUT detailed many instances of censorship and the cancellation and banning of plays, as well as the imprisonment of two of their members for social media postings and for a street performance. The EuroFIA group adopted a resolution condemning the actions of the Turkish government; recalling on their obligations under the 2005 Convention on the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions and urging them to end the repressive practices. We are pleased to report that AUT was able to deploy the resolution to good effect and both of the imprisoned performers, Nazli Masatci and more recently Cenk Dost Verdi have been released from prison. You can download the full text of the Resolution in English and in French below.

The closing of the meeting also included a special tribute to the long contribution of Katalin Raksi representative of the Hungarian Theatre Workers Union (SDS) to the work of FIA and thanking her for the support and invaluable input over many years. This was her final participation in the EuroFIA Group.

The next meeting of the EuroFIA Group will take place in Tel Aviv, Israel in November of this year, hosted by Shaham. The date will be communicated shortly.

EuroFIA Resolution regarding Freedom of Expression in Turkish Theatre

Résolution du Groupe EuroFIA à propos de la Liberté d’Expression dans le Théâtre Turc

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