When they all meet – Slovaks, Hungarians …

In terms of cultural policy, the diversity in the population is a prerequisite for cultural and economic growth, as well as are the indicators:

- social cohesion, socialising, interpersonal trust,

- distrust or dislike of other cultures, which is a measure of inter-cultural cooperation,

- freedom of self-determination.

If we feel like we live in an incredibly diverse environment, because we can see the information from all over the world every day, call anyone on the other side of the continent via Skype, we must conclude that (despite all the technology, vehicles and conveniences of our time), our ancestors would most likely give us a proper thrashing when it comes to intercultural cooperation and cultural diversity.

Before the national revival took place, people had not been used to thinking of nationality or statehood. Joseph II allowed for a gradual awakening of the Austro-Hungarian nations with his reforms and tolerance towards national languages. Slovakia was a part of a great whole of European nations, the Habsburg Empire. From time to time, the control of some parts of the empire was taken over by Turks, Prussians or others, not taking in account the local population, big politics were decided elsewhere and involvement often grew into riots that were suppressed in bloody clashes leaving many human victims. Maybe that’s why, if you travelled for days and nights through the realm, you could meet people speaking dozens of languages. People of darker and lighter skin, men, women of different ages, education, and despite the best efforts of Maria Theresa to reintroduce Catholicism, you could see many churches and people of different beliefs. When these people fought, it was because the political powers decided on the necessity to defend, or to conquer more territories. In fact, most of the battles that took place in cities, when solving the language problems when bargaining. One of the first questions when visiting an inn was whether the people around the table were Austrian, Serbian, Czech, Hungarian, Italian, … . This is how Vienna looked like, this is how Pressburg looked like. Of course, when you are linguistically related to someone you do not have to overcome the barrier of language, you are automatically inclined to each other. However, in general, people in the 17th and most of the 18th century had to deal with problems related to customs, myths, but the language, nation and citizenship for them were not relevant to them, and in particular the Hungarian towns were the pulsating multicultural arteries of a great multi-country organism. Flowing through the countries were goods, services, people, artists. Monarchs made significant efforts to colonise as great area as possible, allocated the colonists – Ruthenians, Romanians, Poles, Croats. Travelling on the roads were Gypsies, in towns there were Jews. The population was rich, poor, educated, uneducated. The values were determined primarily from above, ordered by the church, central regulations and reforms.

It sounds like a simpler world, from which we would now like to take the tolerance to cultural differences, caused by place of birth and also be completely clear about what we have in common – the ruler, the pope, the council, nobility, relics – the crown, remains of saints, sites – castles … and the values they convey.

It is now easy for us to fly over half of Europe in two hours, we find the same accommodation standards almost everywhere and it is easy for us to find a restaurant franchise in almost every town. Despite the fact that we understand how the world is globalised, or perhaps because of that, we tend to notices the differences. The diversity that makes sense to seek and admire. Why then, on the contrary, do we see the increasing fears of what did not bother people a few centuries ago?

Jana Javorská

How Can you Distil the Slovak Spirit?

What would happen if you distil Slovaks? Would we produce Slovákovica? The essence of our culture and national existence that would be free of impurities introduced by the hordes of Avars, Germans, Tatars, Wallachians, Moskviches, Thessaloniki brothers or Brussels’ bureaucracy lovers?

Let us go back to school and try to apply exact procedures. The distillation process involves a physical separation of chemical substances on the basis of the different boiling temperatures of the components contained in the source material. The distillation process comprises a number of stages to capture different fractions, components of the separated product. Although alchemists and chemists know that to achieve one hundred percent purity distillation is the ideal that can be approached to hundredths of a per mille only.

Why distillation – methodological rationale

The distillation process can be seen as a cleansing. That is what we need while searching and producing the Slovak essence. We actually do not know whether we will get a product of pure gold, a philosopher’s stone or the water of life, aqua vitae.

It is essential that the distillation process we have chosen to seek the national nature in us, is not a random tool, an interpretative, analytical and another sociological and social science methodological verbal sediment, but our most natural process. By the way, and it is the inspiration for finding the most traditional to the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic, distillation and in particular the subsequent consumption of the results of the exact chemical methods should be an emblematic part of our cultural heritage. It meets all the requirements of a general cultural conformity, it is more traditional than sheep cheese dumplings, more acceptable than the music of Terchová, more creative and more colourful than jingle bells. Therefore, we should apply for registering the cultural heritage of drinking distilled spirits in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Not to mention the fact that distillation is generally accepted and has geographical ties to the entire territory colonised by our ancestors (the correct meaning of the word comes from the term distillation column (colona), to colonise – to build a distillation column).

Fermentation – a natural process of preparation

The process of distillation, and the production of Slovákovica, the essential principle of Slovakness in us, begins with a simple purification of the starting fermentation mixture. Our Slovak cultural element fermented here between the Tatras and the Danube, as we know, in a millennial bondage, as reads certainly the good national self-interpretation. For proponents of the Euro-optimistic vision, we can talk about the fact that we have fermented here like in a ladle of a developed part of Central Europe, being a part of one of the most influential European state entities. In both cases there was a stage when our national raw material, supervised by living organisms, was transformed, that means, it fermented.

Surely, the distillation wizards know the importance of the formative factors of fermentation, the live cultures, when properly propagated. In the historical process we see that our fermentation process had several phases of development, including the various inspirational and destructive cultures involved that either maintained the fermentation at a relatively quiet level or caused unexpected and sharp rises of the fermentation process, accelerating the maturation.

We will not detail the individual yeasts, because the start of the national rising is getting lost in the depths of time and additives of imported cultures. The actual arrival of the Slavs is not certified by any credible institution. The subsequent launch of the Sub-Tatra fermentation is hazy. By the arrival of the two-brother yeasts of Thessaloniki we mythologically joined the course of national history.
If we took a sample of the mixture then we would certainly find traces of the Brothers’ leaven or Štúrian yeasts from the Halle-incited self-awareness processes. It is enough to say that our fermentation mixture does not come from one Urquelle, although there are indeed some Pilsner yeasts in our national mixture. Purists will undoubtedly ponut out that even a Pilsner beer is actually German, because the fermentation process was initiated by the yeasts of Weihenstephan.

FAQs on the process

Before launching the distillation column we could eliminate the visible dirt in the fermentation mixture. For centuries, much dirt has fallen on our-ness, as the basin under the Tatra mountains is breezy, and the historical events have left much for the fermentation mixture to absorb, and something-somewhere was washed out beyond the boundaries of the country of today, such as the recipe for sausage in Békéscsaba or Andy Warhol in America.

There is a problem, though. What to cleanse? Who will be the one to tell to remove sushi from our mixture, but not the sheep cheese? Who is there to say that glass-concrete is non-Slovak and that we will keep the Gothic part? Will we accept blacksmithing and exclude software development? And what abouit fairy tales? Is Red Riding Hood ours, or did she come to us from European meadows, groves and the Black Forests?
Suddenly we get into a situation where the pre-distillation removal can change significantly the nature of the future product, the Slovak brandy, Slovákovica. So let’s blend everything together and see what starts to flake off. The rising temperature we will separate the components of our national spirit.

However, do we know the temperature at which the Slovakness begins to be isolated from the mixture? At which moment? Because alcohols, water, oil and other fatty acids have their boiling points. What about the spirit of the nation? What is the temperature point for what is different from what other nations have to be released into the column? Anyway, does every nation have a different boiling point? Are we warmer spirits than Hungarians, for example? And does the Hungarian part of our soul evaporate first, and then the Slovak one?

Already the first warm-up of Tatra-foothill mixture gives us a hard time. To distil the Slovákovica means to accept a number of compromises.
And maybe a bit of swindle resulting from the unknown origins for certain yeasts contributing to the maturation of the mixture. Are we sometimes overlooking some apparently non-Slovak yeasts that are ours nowadays?

The religious yeast – no one can claim that the Slovaks have their own divine yeast, they are the same as those that are sowed throughout Europe and from Bethlehem. And the writing system? Well, the two brothers of Thessaloniki came here and still we replaced their letters for a standardised European alphabet. A the dumplings and sheep cheese? Shepherds from Transylvania and potatoes, which began to colonise the lands under the Tatras in the eighteenth century´on the order of Maria Theresa? Is that Slovak?

By distillation, the fermentation mixture is getting clearer and we can see in the glass system, how many identical, common, borrowed, related properties and characters shared with nearby or distant neighbours we have in ourselves. Somehow distillation can not help us get to the bottom of what is essentially Slovak. We can not get rid of what is ours, because we often appropriated that in a natural cultural way. From national dishes to Gothic cathedrals, from shoeing horses to car making. It is impossible to isolate what is national without realise what brings us together with the neighbours, with Europe, with humanity.

And the result?

Well, Slovákovica, that pure and simple and hundred-percent Slovak spirit does not exist. It comes from a mixture that has its roots undeniably and inextricably interwoven with the European cultural fabric over millennia. We are a mixture. Therefore we are.

Martin Kasarda

The Slovak Culture as Part of the European Culture

The Slovak culture and its definitions have always suffered from a lack of self-confidence. We have also been targeted by not always culturally advantageous geopolitical influence. Side by side to the bigger and more powerful neighbours, the attempts of cultural elites to seek identity have been complicated. Tendencies to gloomy suffering, cultural self-pity, feelings of martyrdom and the smallness complex began back with the Štúr’s generation. It continued to persist in the literary works by the likes of Milan Rúfus and Rudolf Dilong. After them came modernists, opting for irony and sarcasm to replace the romantic pathos.

And then came the Internet and globalisation. We found ourselves in the post-modern era, amid the cultural phenomenon called multiculturalism. And so tendentious Slovaks are afraid of foreigners especially where there have not been any of them, in the same way as they are afraid of the penetration of new cultures, although this natural phenomenon had appeared in our territory long before globalisation.
The current effort to create a single European culture, however, causes a pressure under which, willingly or unwillingly, the specifics of different cultures come to the fore. Even the smallest ethnic groups have a need to define their own cultural identity and its attributes. The Slovak culture is still undergoing a similar process. The need for geographical and cultural definitions has sustained as the needs of Slovak artists to be in active contact with both domestic and foreign creators. With how many of them do we really share cultural values? Do we see ourselves as part of Europe or not?
Central Europe has identified itself throughout its history as an independent political, geographical and cultural entity in Europe. The Slovak culture is considered a part of the Central European. In the recent years, the Central European countries have sought to define the similarities and differences with Russia. In the past, such a categorisation did not have a form so simplified. The Slovak culture was formed, like the whole Central European region, in the context of pan-European processes, repeatedly confirming its affiliation to the European culture, not to Russia or the US. An example is the adoption of the Latin language and world, or by affirming its authentic Christian character and belonging to antiquity.

In the 16th century, Central Europe was on the Protestant-Christian border. For many years during the Ottoman occupation, Slovakia accounted for the largest Hungarian Kingdom’s territory and Bratislava was the seat of the Hungarian authorities. At the time recatholisation, Slovakia became a favourite destination of Italian and Austrian baroque artists. In the 19th century the identity of Central Europe was formed under the influence of Pan-Slavic romanticising and Slovak-Czech disputes about language. Germanisation of Czechs and Magyarisation of Slovaks complicated our efforts of finding our cultural identity in Europe. And then came the 20st century and the totalitarian regime put multiculturalism for to a “sleep” for nearly 50 years. It is no wonder that nowadays this term is considered by some as an insidious weapon imperialism.

However, multiculturalism is not a Colorado potato beetle. It is an integral part of the Slovak culture and its presence is proof of the cultural sovereignty of Slovakia in Europe. In addition to countless works of art, the quality and ability of self-presentation of Slovak creators confirmed at one of the most important book fairs Salon du livre in Paris on March 15 to 18. Given the current state of our culture, no complex pettiness, sadness or cultural self-pity is needed any longer.

Michaela Suchá

The author is a graduate of Theater Studies in Brno

Are We Able to Dance on the European Dance Floor?

It has been 30 years since the stellar moments of 1989, which wafted upon us with long desired freedom. We thought that the profession of ideological censors who forbid beautiful books, good scripts, exceptional paintings, because they did not understand tham and found them suspicious. Censors quietly disappeared from the ministry, only some of its actors remind us today to keep looking, because they may return at any time: Always ready!

We waited impatiently for the opening of drawers, suitcases from under beds, and buried treasures of illicit production, and for our culture to fly across Europe like that mythical Phoenix. Everyone would stand in awe, realising: how is it possible that we had not known anything about how talented our nation was? Where are the Nobel Prizes for literature, book awards, best showrooms, Berlin, Cannes, let us wreathe them, for they would be an integral part of the European culture. Beautiful dreams of all the things we could be if …

We hoped at least that something would happen, similar to what we nostalgically remember from the late 1960s. New magazines, full of critical articles by educated journalists, a new wave in the cinema that has picked up people from their seats worldwide, new book writers who started using a new vocabulary, quite a “Freedom / Free”, new music dropping any hints of folk songs, and especially new audiences that have arisen from the non-being of the haunted fifties. New ideas of our, then younger generation, flooded the culture with life-giving energy that had been so dangerous in the red zone, in which we were imprisoned, that it had to be choked up by the tanks in 1968.

30 years have passed and we grudgingly observe that we are still just being upset about having no new modern library, we still resists the idea of those who think that Slovak culture is only about the long axe and singing dressed in folk costumes, we eagerly await the law on sponsorship to refresh financing of culture as we have sponsorship in sports, and we will peer into the advanced statistics and finally will know how much money we spend on culture and whether it is enough. Although there are some voices getting stronger that criticise the split in the perception of the the Slovak society’s culture in two parts that can not find a common ground, as if there was an uncrossable barrier between us, but this is what Alexander Matuška said 70 years ago. In culture, nothing new and European has happened so far.

So far, none of the ministers of culture implemented any significant cultural infrastructure funding from the Structural Funds like our neighbours did. Poland used European funds to build a modern community library in every regional capital, and the exceptional Philharmonic halls in Katowice and Szczecin, which are world-class. What we can admire in Slovakia is just an excessively high number of strategic documents and action plans of the Ministry of Culture, but we will never know how much they were accomplished and what the results are. The Creative Europe page was last updated in May 2014 and Creative Industries, which was supposed to become our most dynamic sector with a great future, in January 2016, which is not indicative of any excessive efforts to convince us of the usefulness of the activities done by ministerial officials.

The year 2018 was declared the Year of the European cultural heritage. A year ahead, the ministries of culture of Slovakia’s neighbouring states asked selected agencies to submit special programmes to fill the whole year with events that would present the cultural heritage of the countries abroad on the one hand, and, on the other hand, to bring the modern approach to the selection and preservation the cultural heritage closer to domestic populations. Our Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic invited all those who organise events to apply for the possibility to use the international European cultural heritage logo in their scheduled events without having to define at least the fundamental priorities. So there besides a few conferences on various topics, including the “non-heritage” ones, there was some tasting of traditional handicrafts, theatre performance “Wen whamen wanna rool”, and a organ concert in a church.

We can see our idea of presenting Slovakia’s culture on the European soil is best documented by comparing the Europeana portal with Slovakiana. Financially, ours certainly was at a European level with the costs, but the results after three years do not correspond to a regional level. That is also why our presentation is more comparable with the Albanian, but certainly not with the Hungarian or Czech. The fundamental problem is that not even the cultural community in Slovakia demands an improvement and does not create the pressure to investigate the escape of funds from this project, and is not interested in the fate of our digitised collections of our repository institutions led by the Slovak National Library, and of the funds we were given for that by all Europeans. Millions of euros in both projects.

With rare exceptions, our Ministers of Culture have not travelled anywhere, have not held any important positions at the European level and usually they could not have, because their communication skills being limited to chatting with Czech delegates. And yet the first European Commissioner at a new post in the European Commission was Ján Figeľ, in 2004-2009 . His portfolio included Education, Training, Culture and Multilingualism. The choice of activities makes it apparent that was really a mixed bag, as it happens, when everyone knows that something should be started, but nobody knows exactly how. However, if we wanted to read what the work of J. Figeľ meant not only for the EU but also for Slovakia, then we will find nothing. Although Mr. Commissioner worked hard, we do not know and are not interested in what was left of it. I remember only one traditional conference on multiculturalism in Ljubljana, but it was not yet an explosive topic of new European nationalists. Today, multiculturalism is a bad word, not used by decent people.

To this day we do not know how big the modernisation debt is in our culture. Not that anyone has not described it, but nobody has ever quantified the dizzying sum or produced a true twenty-year action plan to eliminate it. Three decades have passed and we do not know how much effort and years the next debt of cultural reforms that we have created because the Ministry of Culture and its subordinate institutions have not undergone fundamental reform of the structure, financing and activities like other sectors and the entire society. Just walk into the building of the former Tatra Banka and breathe the stale air and dust sticking on the walls. Not to mention the desperate attempts of some modern-thinking directors of cultural institutions, who could talk for hours about the obstacles in their efforts to modernise the stereotypical practices.

And finally – does Slovakia have its European cultural policy? The idea, based on the evaluation of the effects of individual programmes of Creative Europe, regional programmes, should be culturally awakened by our regions along the lines of those of France or Austria. A vision, planned at least for the new EU financial period, supported by financial plans of projects that we will have to co-finance. Resolutions to cooperate at least with the ministries of the neighbouring European Union Member States and relevant non-governmental organisations in order to participate in the cultural pulse of the times around us. Or, have we decided to continue in cultural isolation and then lament that no one knows us? How to achieve the “leap” cultural investments without financial assistance from abroad?

The past experience of cultural management in Slovakia can not be assessed by any positive and empty phrases. The two treasury boxes, called Funds, developed by one minister over the 12 years while he was in office, will not stop us from a critical attitude. Nevertheless, like in other areas of our lives, without becoming aware of the latest trends of cultural policy abroad, we will just still keep creating pathetic and tearful variations on notorious topics of why we lag behind. We all have the latest mobile phones, post modern statuses on global social networks, dress to the latest fashion trends, listen to world pop music, so why would we obstinately keep wearing the old shabby pants and nourish the small-town wives’ dreams of the last century? The Tatra banka building finally needs a new generation, which should go from the squares right in the door next to the Astorka theatre.

Magda Vášáryová

The Pink Elephant

Although we, Slovaks, are quite reasonable creatures, our tradition commands us to remain essentially incorrigible. And so we go neither forward nor backward, we prefer the autonomy of stillstand, just like greatest metal-sheet Slovak at the foothill in the Terchovská Valley. We are incorrigible also in relation to the money Europeans pour on us in good faith, naively expecting we will use it to enhance our culture and cultural manners. Little do they know that our Slavic Mother has raised us to be good at the Potemkinian management. And so having produced our famous Slovakiana that still keeps failing to achieve the European quality, a kind of a creative centre is planned where creations will be will be created, as we say. There is no more time to come up with anything else, and the money must be spent as soon as possible – because otherwise there would be none, and so no back passes, small or big, for God’s sake! We will prefer to look stupid – we are accustomed to that – than to return the full amount with disgrace. And where will the new Creative Centre be? At the Kunsthalle, of course, for it is of no use to us anyway, id does not even showcase any traditional culture.
What a coincidence, here comes our Best Minister of Culture again, who is again not responsible for anything. On the contrary, he made his best, be it those tens of millions for digitisation, or those additional tens of millions for creative industries. Those many strategies he initiated! However, they were always some enemies of the cohesion just trying to trip him up.

And so everything was managed through the same unproven companies again, the calls were announced late, and again all will be made barely in time. If ever… The whole thing will look and taste like the famous tale cake from the fairy tale about the dog and the cat, putting everything in it. Thank God, no one cares about culture, so there will be nobody to complain on city squares. And there is nothing else that works on our best minister.

Copyright Changes in the EU: A Revolution on the Internet?

The term “copyright reform in the European Union” does not sound sexy, until the Europeans are also told that the usual sharing of texts, photos, music or videos on the Internet will function much differently than before.
War on copyright in the digital space has been going around since the days users found how easy it is to share the available content by pressing “Ctrl C” and “Ctrl V”. If a creator once posted something on the World Wide Web, then it would be increasingly difficult to keep track of all the places the product appeared.

The goal to adapt copyright to the 21st century has been the same for all. However, the ways to achieve it have differed radically. In 2016, the fight started that earlier this year grew into pan-European mass protests and a petition signed by more than five million Europeans.
The irregularities were uncovered most intensely in connection with the growth of tech giants and social networking sites. They began to get unprecedentedly rich on foreign texts, music, video, or other copyright-protected content. Although they have not always offered the entire copyrighted materials, they managed to monetise parts, titles or excerpts of products of someone else’s intellectual activity. Marketers, advertising agencies and in recent years also institutions, associations, companies and even politicians and ordinary citizens, got to pay more and more.

According to Eurostat back in 2017 as much as 46 per cent of European companies claimed that they used at least one of the available social networks for marketing. Use of the Internet advertising was confirmed by 26 percent of companies. It was therefore only a matter of time for the parties concerned to say “enough”. Although countries, including Slovakia, have set certain rules, huge profits technological giants went directly to the pockets of publishers and authors only in a very limited manner – if at all.

Companies like Google, Facebook say that it is thanks to them that many media or author managed to reach more prospects. However, there are very few statistics that would confirm it. For example, when the Google News platform that brings together headlines and short lead paragraphs of other media as an overview of news, discontinued its service in 2013 from a Spanish web site, the media recorded a decrease of interest by six to 30 percent. A 2014 study from Germany suggests that a similar scenario reduced the traffic to the media of the Axel Springer publishing house by seven percent.

Copyright has become the centre of European attention in relation to the Brussels’ commitment to unite EU member states in the digital market for the Union to be able to compete on the worldwide stage. Although the block has set some minimum rules for the Member States set up in 2001, only few people across the spectrum of stakeholders thought some new rules adapted to current use practices and technologies to be unnecessary.
The real battle across the 28 EU states, institutions, publishers, platforms, and authors unleashed with the first draft of the new directive.
There were many hoaxes in the long campaign. Some claimed that Brussels was going to eliminate funny photo remakes known as memes. YouTubers feared a ban of parodies, or cover versions of songs. Some more aggressive voices even persuaded of disastrous scenarios of restricted freedoms of expression and the Internet in general.

Improving licensing practices, cross-border licensing across the Union, access to copyrighted content for schools, scientists and researchers, and better availability of European productions on on demand video platforms (VOD) such as Netflix or HBO Go, were proposals accepted with optimism.
However, two of the most controversial articles were associated with miscellaneous and often false information: 11 and 13.

Under Article 11 of the proposed directive, the publication of more content on an on-line platform that exceeds the range of single words or very short statements requires a license agreement between the author – or the copyright holder – and the platform. In practice, this means that sites like Google, Facebook, as well as smaller companies in Slovakia like Zoznam, will have to gradually enter into contracts with thousands of rights holders. Although it should be simplified licensing, the question is, who gets the real power over what content is available. Platform may start to select and the access the greatest of them may not be granted to anyone. One positive could be undoubtedly a faster identification of false content, hoaxes or conspiracy media that would simply not have any contracts with the platform.

Nevertheless, the legislation does not guarantee that the license fees will actually be paid to the actual author, or that the fees will not end up in the pockets of publishing houses and associations that represent authors. They will be much more powerful because they can make deals directly with technological giants. The opponents argue that this issue clearly shows that content creators were the last ones of whom the EU-wide legislation engineers thought.

Article 13 triggered even more controversy. Platform where users upload content will have to engage systems to distinguish whether a user’s submission complies with all copyright conditions and whether the platform has made a licence agreement with the author. So if a user shares an article of a Slovak daily on its Facebook profile, a Facebook’s filter should check whether the specific media and the social networking site have a valid licence agreement. In this regard, the on-line platform assumes legal responsibility for its users. In the last debate on the directive, MEP Richard Sulík likened this process to the operation of a parking lot: “It is like if a car park operator should be responsible that a car parked there is not a stolen one.”

Some control systems, also referred to as upload filters, are used today by YouTube in the video production sector. Google, which owns YouTube, has invested millions in these, yet still not working to meet the requirements of the new legislation. For smaller platforms or sites such a requirement could lead to their discontinuation.

The problem is also an exception to these conditions. So called “Micro and small enterprises” could avoid the obligation of controlling user content or licensing to avoid only if it meets all of the three specific criteria: annual turnover would be less than ten million euros a year, the services would be offered publicly for less than three years, and the platform would have to be used by fewer than five million unique users per month.

The exemption for small and medium-sized enterprises was also a condition presented by the Slovak delegates at the negotiating table. Organisations representing startups or small and medium-sized enterprises say that in the technological world there are no micro-enterprises that meet all the criteria that exist or make money. In spite of the controversy in the exemption, the Slovak Republic endorsed the entire text of the legislation in the EU Council.

The issue of copyright did not earn much attention of media in the last stages of drafting the legislation in Brussels. Print, radio and TV have been usually happy to receive press releases from agencies. Paradoxically, they were one of the stakeholders in the fight for the European copyrights. There was no balance in the information provided by publishers. If a rebuttal came to the fore, then the media houses would make it look just like an opinion of the “rich and greedy” companies which, moreover, were not based in Europe. There were growing suspicions of lobbying and accusations on both sides of the barricades.

Julia Reda, one of the youngest MEPs in the European Parliament, mobilised the community of young people not only her home country of Germany, but young people across Europe refer to her. A tiny MEP discusses passionately the possible impacts, pointing out for months that the legislation in its current form does not protect small publishers, but throws them at the mercy of publishers and tech giants. It was Reda who was blamed for trying to ruin the legislation because of the companies behind it.

Reda found strong support among the Internet community. Twitter and Instagram were flooded by #SaveYourInternet, which she made popular. It was mainly the young people in countries like Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium who took to the streets and demanded to save the Internet. “The current wording of the legislation is a farce, which is comparable to the “Flat Earth” movement in terms of denying reality”, one of the German activists, Sascha Lobo, said in Der Spiegel. The activists claim that MEPs and EU bureaucratsand national governments do not think enough of how young people use the Internet today and the adoption of the legislation may therefore lead to irreversible changes across the creative industries of today. The last protests organised in over 70 European cities gathered tens of thousands of mostly young opponents of the directive.

The text of legislation has already been approved by the European Commission and the EU Member States. It is the European Parliament to have the last word. In the last week of March, the 751 MEPs met and voted on the Directive en bloc – only five votes decided that Articles 11 and 13 would not be approved separately.

Most MEPs finally approved the entire Directive on March 26th. The current users’ ways of sharing on the internet will be changed soon significantly, and we will have to forget the boundless freedom of the online ocean. The EU Member States will have to incorporate the directive into national law within the next two years.

For more information about the process of creation and adoption of legislation on copyright, go here.

Lucia Yar

The author is an editor of EurActiv Slovakia


Surely you have already read or heard somewhere that the European integration would have been different and definitely more attractive if the whole process from the fifties of the last century had began with elegant conversations about a common cultural policy. After all, we are all the offspring of European culture from Homer to Goethe. Those who claim that despise endless negotiations on quantitative restrictions on coal and steel, the products working as reliable detonators for several devastating wars in Europe. I do not know whether the promoters of Schiller’s ode of all of us being brothers (and today some sisters too) have ever negotiated anything at the European level, but given their imperishable belief that we can still agree at least on the fact that culture is a decisive factor in our endeavour to secure peace on the continent, I assume with 99 % certainty that they have not. Otherwise they must have the knowledge that we would not have the European Economic Community today, which started it all, and the European Union with its common policies, among which, at the request of the Member States of the Union, the areas of culture, education, social policy and many other sub-areas are very much absent. It is surprising also because this mostly concerns those advocating a stronger position on nation states with their national culture within the EU, and strict adherence to the subsidiarity, i.e. the principle that competences that can be better exercised by sovereign States, should not be the EU policies. Although this also concerns very attractive personalities of the Slovak culture who despise the efforts of several generations of Europeans to agree at least on measurable commodities instead of digging trenches, regardless of the consequences, I believe that it is our duty to provide them with a few facts. I understand that their attitude copies such specific phenomena that occur so often in our history as the 19th century’s dream of a giant Russian oak tree spread by those who did not bother to overcome a two-thousand kilometre distance, yet saying proudly: “Neva’ bin there”, to quote the cultural classic.

It pays off to know more!

Therefore we have prepared for you a brief, non-boring overview of the possible interferences of EU policies in shaping our self-standing cultural policies. Whether it is copyright and other legislative acts or a historical insight of the efforts to enforce some common practices within the Creative Europe, down to critical views, so popular in the Cultural Oxygen, on the (in)ability to communicate and present the results of our cultural experience at the European level.

We did not know at the beginning of 2019 how precisely we would guess the right notes of these turbulent times.

Magda Vášáryová