This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 320294


United in the Undefined: Balancing Cultural Diversity and Internal Market Goals in European Regulation for State Aid for Film

September 14, 2015

Author: Maarten R. van der Heijden, Utrecht University, The Netherlands



How does the European Union value cultural diversity in European regulation for national state aid for films? Over the last years with the signing of the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity that considers cultural diversity inseparable from human dignity the European Union has asserted a progressive line in thinking about cultural diversity as a citizen right. At the same time the Union is still taking a market-oriented approach towards cultural diversity in its state aid and cultural policy.

The same dynamics can be seen in European film state aid law. The combination of taking a market approach, while having citizen-oriented goals, has lead to unclear laws, a puzzle of competence. The points-based system for national state aid that now is preferred by the Commission is a product of these dynamics and only looks at quantitative variables such as shooting location, language spoken and the nationality of actors. From a citizen-oriented idea of culture that is closely entangled with identity, this system does not necessarily protect cultural and linguistic diversity as civil rights.

This thesis explains how the market approach that is embedded in negative integration, limits the European valuing of cultural diversity. Looking at the rhetoric and the praxis of the European Union it shows that, because the limitations and competence questions that the market approach creates, the European Union is not attaining the ambitions that it voices on cultural diversity and that this gives rise to various problems for the future of a culture diverse European film landscape.

Download the full paper: Maarten van der Hijden