In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, national economies across the world have been severely hit by ongoing lockdowns and restrictions. Many sectors, including the cultural sector, have been jeopardized by the crisis and are only now starting to recover.
Bookshops of all sizes around the world have also suffered from the pandemic, having dealt with closures, restrictions, stock shortages and sales losses.
To help European economies rebuild from the effects of the pandemic, the European Commission set up the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF).
The RRF is a financial instrument launched by the European Commission with the intention of funding a set of reforms and investments in all EU’s 27 Member states. It came into force on 19 February 2021 and will provide EU countries with a total of €723.8 billion in loans and grants until 31 December 2026.
To benefit from these funds, Member States had to draft and submit their national recovery plans to the European Commission, consisting of reforms and investments they would like to finance with the European funds, in line with guidelines set out by the European Commission.
Once submitted, the drafts of the national plans had to be endorsed by the European Commission and approved by the Council of the EU, before EU member states receive their allocated funding.
As of today, all of EU countries’ national recovery and resilience plans (except for the Dutch one), have been submitted to the European Commission. While some are still being reviewed by the Commission, others have already began being disbursed, such as Spain.
- Why is the RRF important?
Member states’ recovery and resilience plans are crucial for them to benefit from a substantial amount of funding to rebuild their economies. For instance, Germany will receive €27.9 billion, of which €25.6 billion are grants, and will prioritise climate policy and energy transition as well as the digitalisation of their economy and infrastructure, among other areas.
Over the past years, EIBF has joined forces with many cultural-sector organisations calling on member states not to forget to allocate adequate funding to the cultural sector within their national recovery plans.
Having monitored the process of plan submission, adoption and funding disbursement, EIBF looked into each plan to determine how each member state’s plan can best benefit the bookselling industry.
In order to do so, we focused on two main areas of funding:
• The funding earmarked for the recovery of the cultural sector
• The funding earmarked for the recovery of the Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs)
- What’s in it for booksellers?
Based on EIBF’s research, we determined that many of the plans include reforms to ensure businesses across all industries become greener and more digitalised, which is one of the Commission’s key priorities.
Furthermore, 14 out of 26 member states have included the cultural sector as a priority in their plans, meaning they will allocate funding to diverse plans and investments to boost the development of the sector in their respective countries.
A summary for each country’s recovery plan in our membership can be found in the document below.
Examples of specific measures for the book sector include:
• € 40.7 million investment in Bulgaria to build an inclusive, internationally competitive and sustainable cultural ecosystem
• € 4 million investment in Romania for the digitalisation of the book sector
• €53 million plan in France to increase the competitiveness of 10,500 bookshops vis-à-vis platforms and strengthen their regional role)
Find out more below.
It has become increasingly obvious that the 2020 European Parliament’s Resolution on the Cultural Recovery in Europe, setting the goal to earmark at least 2% of the EU's Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) budget to culture, has not been taken into account by many member states.
On 25 April 2022, the Parliament’s Culture Committee (CULT) adopted its opinion on the Implementation report on the Recovery and Resilience Facility. In their opinion, CULT Committee deplores the fact that only 16 Member States have included culture in their national recovery plans, arguing that "the heterogeneity of public investments will lead to the cultural and creative sectors recovering at different speeds, causing increased disparities within the EU’s cultural ecosystem and threatening Europe’s cultural diversity".
Therefore, CULT Committee calls on Member States to appropriately consider the cultural sector's recovery in any amendments to their National recovery plans.
They also urge the continuous involvement of stakeholders to the implementation and monitoring of the RRF plans, a call which EIBF supports.
EIBF will continue to monitor and advocate, along with EU organisations from the cultural sector, for adequate funding for the cultural and creative industries.
Disclaimer: this information was gathered through EIBF research and complemented with the publicly available monitoring and analysis by Culture Action Europe and Bruegel.
This publication has been updated with information available until 2 May 2022. We will continue updating the page when necessary.