In May of this year, the European Commission presented the ‘Next Generation EU’ (NGEU), a financial instrument to alleviate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. This plan includes a budget of 750 billion euros for the recovery instrument, and a reinforced budget for the Multiannual Financial Framework for the period 2021-2027. In the speeches presenting the plan, the President of the European Commission, Ursula Von Der Leyen, made special mention of culture, recognizing that it has been one of the sectors hardest hit by the health crisis, but also highlighting the potential of this sector to contribute to the recovery of the economy and employment in the EU.
To put this financing mechanism into operation, the member states will have to send to Brussels their national recovery plans, which will include the reforms they have to carry out, as well as their investment agenda. In addition, it will be necessary for the countries to open channels of dialogue with the agents involved in all productive sectors. In this context, the Cultural and Creative Industries (CCI) are in a position to benefit from this financial support in the recovery plans of their respective countries. The whole scenario is positive, but the most difficult part will be designing innovative projects, transforming the economy, which incorporate digitization and sustainability as fundamental axes, and which are developed in collaboration with other productive sectors. This puzzle will have to be put together before April 2021, if we want to take advantage of a historic opportunity for the culture sector.
The Cultural and Creative Industries (CCI) are a key element of the economy and employment in Spain, with a contribution to GDP higher than that of other strategic sectors, such as the chemical and telecommunications industries.. On the other hand, they are a fundamental ally to promote innovation and sustainable and inclusive growth. Furthermore, its ease of introducing digital skills strengthens its contribution to driving the transformation of our economy. With these premises, we understand that the CCIs should play a leading role in the Recovery Plan, and we raised this in June 2020 in the document that Fundación Alternativas sent to the Commission for Reconstruction of Congress.. In this document, we include the Cultural and Creative Industries as an essential element to promote innovation and sustainable and inclusive growth, which are the basis of the NGEU. In addition, we emphasized that the development of initiatives in this area should take into account issues that have not been resolved for a long time, such as guaranteeing communication infrastructures throughout the territory, favoring spaces for intersectorality, strengthening training in digital tools, and facilitating the Access to finance for SMEs in culture, which make up 60% of the productive fabric.
From now on, and taking advantage of this context of budgetary impulse, it is necessary to lay the foundations that allow the CCIs to face the future with greater strength. For this, it will be necessary to transform the approach and think on a European scale, open up to transversality and connect with other productive sectors, in addition to promoting public-private alliances that guarantee the sustainability of investments. The possibilities are immense, but it is essential to specify the proposals to be able to send Spain the budget initially assigned by the European Commission and approved by the European Parliament.
Until today we had many questions about the governance of these funds, but as of the day this text is published, some details of the NGEU implementation plan have begun to be known. We already know that a single window will be established for the reception of projects, which will receive the name of PERTES, which will be the result of alliances with the private sector. Up to 50% of the funds for these projects will be advanced and the processing and bidding times will be reduced in order to speed up the execution of the actions. The document also includes the creation of sectoral consultative bodies, so we deduce that a specific one should be created for the CCIs.
The funds that Spain will receive from the NGEU will be more than those that have come to our country since we became part of the EU. The challenge is as great as the opportunity it represents for the entire Spanish economy, and in particular for the CCIs, which are suffering so much from the effects of the pandemic.
* Inma Ballesteros is Director of Culture and Communication of the Alternativas Foundation
 CCIs account for 2.4% of GDP, reaching 3.2% if we add activities related to intellectual property, while the chemical industry 1.1% and telecommunications 1.8%.
 Strategic Projects for Economic Recovery and Transformation.