Extend access to collective bargaining also to the solo self-employed outside of the platform economy

Logo des Bundesverband Bildender Künstlerinnen und Künstler

The Bundesverband Bildender Künstlerinnen und Künstler (BBK) (Federal Association of Visual Artists) has issued a statement on the EU initiative Ref. Ares(2021)102652 public consultation "Collective bargaining agreements for self-employed - scope of application EU competition rules".

Read the original statement here (in German, PDF)

"Statement of the Bundesverband Bildender Künstlerinnen und Künstler (BBK - Federal Association of Visual Artists)

Initiative Ref. Ares (2021)102652 | “Collective bargaining agreements for self-employed – scope of application of EU competition rules”

The Bundesverband Bildender Künstlerinnen und Künstler (Federal Association of Visual Artists) (BBK) supports the initiative and calls for access to collective bargaining to be extended to the solo self-employed outside the platform economy.

In view of the economic situation in the visual arts with many hybrid forms of employment in the entire field of the creative industries, we see option 4 of the initiative as urgent, as the problem is not newly caused by the platform economy, but already existed in pre-digital times.

For the visual arts in particular, we expect an improvement in the negotiating basis of the solo self-employed and their professional associations vis-à-vis exhibition facilities, private clients, exploiters of art, the galleries and associations of the art market. A clear agreement, such as the architects' HOAI (fee calculator), could lead to a significant improvement and stabilisation of the income situation and thus facilitate social security and retirement provision. In addition, we expect the initiative to improve the negotiating position vis-à-vis institutions of the public sector and large companies which, due to their monopoly position, have so far paid no or very insufficient fees for freelance artists.

The situation of the solo self-employed in the field of the arts and creative industries is precarious. Direct self-marketing has not increased with to digitalization, which means that intermediary exploiters continue to be very important. The market power of the exploiters of creative work is overwhelming. There is no basis for negotiation between contractor and client that functions on an equal basis. Unfair competition and price dumping are widespread. Prices are largely based on capped budgets and not on the actual workload. Tolerating unpaid work is the maximum form of price dumping.

The result of the Eurofonds study from 2017 - a quarter of the self-employed have unfavourable working conditions including low income levels - is in line with other study results in the visual arts. Incomes are very often precarious - also because artistic services are not or only partially remunerated. For this reason, the Federal Association of Visual Artists (BBK) and its regional associations demand that artistic services be adequately remunerated, e.g. in connection with exhibitions (exhibition fees), the transfer of copyrights and so-called buy-out contracts, appropriate rates for creative, freelance services, and pricing based on the actual effort involved. Fair minimum standards can reduce the widespread unfair competition without questioning the fundamental freedom to set prices.

The initiative of the European Commission would strengthen the negotiating position of professional associations for an appropriate fee determination and create the legal framework for negotiations.

In the field of copyright, visual artists in Germany already have strong negotiating power at national, European and international level through the Collecting Society Bild-Kunst. We call for a further strengthening of the collecting societies in all European countries."

Literature: Schulz, Gabriele, Zimmermann, Olaf, 2020: Frauen und Männer im Kulturmarkt. Bericht zur wirtschaftlichen und sozialen Lage.

Information on the EU initiative here.

Read more also on the IAA Europe General Assembly 2019 in Bratislava and the conference "Legal and social statutes of artists in Europe – 30 years after the Velvet Revolution: Focus on the Directive (EU) 2019/790 on Copyright in the digital Single Market"

as well as the "IAA Europe resolution on the implementation of the EU Copyright Directive 2019 for an appropriate and proportionate remuneration of visual artists in Europe".