Culture at the heart of EU international relations

On 23 May the Council adopted conclusionson on an EU strategic approach to international cultural relations. The conclusions follow the joint communication from the High Representative and the European Commission of 8 June 2016 entitled "Towards an EU Strategy for international cultural relations" of 8 June 2016". They provide guidance on the EU's strategic approach to international cultural relations.

The EU strategy for international cultural relations will focus on three main objectives:

  • Supporting culture as an engine for social and economic development
  • Promoting intercultural dialogue and the role of culture for peaceful inter-community relations
  • Reinforcing cooperation on cultural heritage

The strategy has been accepted with widespread support by cultural organisations and other stakeholders as well as governments. EU Delegations around the world have intensified their activities in developing new cultural projects. Stronger attention is being paid to culture in the definition of EU programmes in general, above all for what concerns its new approach relying culture to economic growth.

For the implementation of the Strategy for international cultural relations, the EU counts on its 139 Delegations and Offices operating around the world, which already carry out an enormous number of cultural activities in their host countries.

The Culture Council on 23 May 2017 further decided to establish a Friends of Presidency group that will tackle cultural issues in different Council formations. This tool is supposed to mainstream culture in other fields of activities of the EU and to flag its importance at different levels of institutions and society.

The Counsil underlines that the EU approach must entail a bottom-up perspective, while respecting the independence of the cultural sector, reinforcing freedom of expression and artists’ integrity, encouraging direct contacts between artists, cultural operators and civil society, and allowing for sufficient flexibility to take into consideration the rapidly changing global scenario.


More information:

Council conclusions on an EU strategic approach to international cultural relations (pdf, 5 pages)

European Commission's Fact Sheet "A new strategy to put culture at the heart of EU international relations"

© Jens Bjerregaard