The European Union (EU) has sought to promote the ‘competitiveness’ of its audiovisual sector and the European film industry (EFI), which are situated at the intersection of the economy and culture, taking into account the evolving technological context and other significant changes that have occurred over the years. The EU has also sought to embed a ‘cultural diversity’ rational into its actions targeting the EFI and the audiovisual industry.

Competitiveness and cultural diversity have long tended to be seen as reflecting, respectively, certain market and non-market values in EU policy-making. However, the two concepts have progressively become interlinked and have both proven to be of a multifaceted nature. This facilitates intricate synergies when they are combined, juxtaposed and employed together. Competitiveness and cultural diversity can still be occasionally perceived as conflictual in EU policy-making.

From this perspective, there appears to be a gap in EU policy practice in terms of finding ways to resolve possible conflicts between the two concepts. Potential conflicts are not always recognised in EU legislative and policy measures. When they are, though, reconciling solutions are rarely offered; instead one objective is given priority over the other – commonly competitiveness over cultural diversity but also vice-versa. The EU must ensure that enhancing the competitiveness of its audiovisual industry does not come at a cost to its cultural diversity and vice-versa.

This policy brief draws on the findings of a report that examines, by engaging in a diachronic analysis, the ways in which the European institutions have addressed the concepts of ‘competitiveness’ and ‘cultural diversity’ in the development of their policies for the European audiovisual sector and film industry in the framework of the Reboot project (Reviving, Boosting, Optimising and Transforming European Film Competitiveness).