Beda lobbies Europe to fund design

The Bureau of European Design Associations is lobbying the European Commission to encourage European Union member states to invest a percentage of their annual GDP in design.

Convincing Europe to unlock more design investment was one of the issues discussed at Beda’s annual general assembly held last Saturday at the Architecture Museum in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

‘If you look at design funding across member states, each country has a different system,’ says Beda president Michael Thomson. ‘We want states to increase funding and create a unified system of public investment.’

Beda is the umbrella body for Europe’s design associations, including the UK’s Design Business Association. It met with EU president José Manuel Barroso in October last year, when he agreed with Beda’s aim to help European designers compete with emerging markets. Beda claims that it is now eliciting ‘real commitments’ from the president.

‘The most important element of our work is the development of European design policy,’ says Thomson. ‘Although we’re at an early stage, the journey has started. The EC has made commitments to us, and we are moving fast on policy matters.’

Beda has secured a design policy workshop between its design policy taskforce and the EC, which Thomson reports will take place this summer.

The EC is also in talks with Beda about its input into a paper, Communication of Design, due to be published next year and issued to every EU member state.

‘This is the most substantial step forward for design on the European level, ever,’ says Thomson, adding, ‘For the first time, the EU is taking design seriously at the policy level.’

Beda is also working with the European Innovation Survey to embed questions on the value of design to business, the results of which it hopes will support the case for increasing public investment in design.

The issue of free-pitching was also discussed last weekend, with Beda setting up a working group to explore setting member guidelines as well as exploring the possibility of regulating European design procurement methods.

At its general assembly, Beda re-elected five board directors for the term 2008–2010, and elected four new members:
• Henrique Cayatte, Portuguese Design Centre
• Ilona Gurjanova, Estonian Design Centre
• Sanna Simola, Ornamo, Finland
• Spela Subic, Bio, Slovenia
Beda vice-president Jan Stavik, from the Norwegian Design Council, replaces Michael Thomson as president in March 2009

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