A crucial EU framework for the social and professional situation of artists and creatives

An EU study explores possible policy options to tackle the problems and gaps in the cultural and creative sectors related to working and social conditions.

By Creatives Unite Newsroom
December 22, 2023

The cultural and creative sectors (CCS) play an important role in the identity and economy of the European Union (EU). The CCS employ an estimated 7.7million people, or about 3.8% of the EU's workforce. The challenges facing thesesectors are long-standing, and worsened during the COVID19 pandemic. These challenges are due in part to the business model of producing art and culture, which often produces experiences, unlike other sectors that produce goods and services. This economic sector, classified as 'Arts, entertainment and recreation', is characterised by the diversity of its activities and an enormous variety of subsectors. Member States organise the  structure, activities and products of the CCS within differing legal frameworks, showing a heterogeneous picture with important differences between the subsectors.

Many artists and cultural workers (referred to as CCS professionals in the study) have atypical employment contracts and working conditions (e.g. part-time or fixed-term, temporary work, intermittent project-based employment or economically dependent solo self-employment). CCS professionals, in particular artists, are more likely to be self-employed compared with the rest of the labour market (32 % versus 14 %). Fewer people in the CCS work in full-time employment compared with the economy as a whole. The situation can result in job and income insecurity, and subsequently have an impact on pension provisionsfor example. Bogus self-employment in the CCS lies at between 1.6% to 10.8% in the EU, depending on the definition and the method of estimation. Actors in the CCS, the European Parliament, the Council and other EU institutions6 and academia have identified problems and have called for action to address the gaps.

Limitations in statutory social security conditions and the employment relationships applied in the CCS hamper access to social security. Differing laws regulating social security and the EU's limited competence in this area worsen the fragmentation. The high level of cross-border mobility is an additional factor. Although cross-border mobility offers benefits in terms of more working opportunities, and enables CCS professionals to build an international reputation, it comes with challenges arising from the lack of coordination between national social security systems and inconsistent application of social security rights across borders, in particular for the self-employed. Short-term, project-based financing in the CCS is a fact, and it is often mirrored in the nature of project-based work contracts; this impacts the working conditions and social protection of CCS professionals.

The study proposes potential solutions and emphasises the need for EU-level action to address these issues effectively. The analysis in this study and its annex show that maintaining the status quo would further deteriorate the working conditions and social security rights of certain groups of workers in the CCS, and increase their vulnerability and the risk of poverty if certain aspects are not tackled. Fewer contributors to social security schemes because of the increasing number of selfemployed and atypical employment relationshipscould also undermine the sustainability of social security systems.

Find the full publication here