International Cultural Policy in the Context of the European Union (EU)
In line with the relevant EU provisions, cultural affairs fall under national jurisdiction. The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union stipulates (under Article 167) that the Union shall contribute to the flowering of the cultures of the Member States, while respecting their national and regional diversity and at the same time bringing the common cultural heritage to the fore.
The European Union shall promote and support action taken by the Member States. The Union and the Member States shall also foster cooperation with third countries and the competent international organisations in the sphere of culture, particularly the Council of Europe.
The tools used by the European Union to this end are incentive measures adopted by the Council and the European Parliament and proposals from the Commission.
The European Agenda for Culture
The Agenda for Culture endorsed by the European Council in 2007 defined a new political framework for cultural matters at the EU level. It pursues a dual goal. On the one hand the European Agenda for Culture strives to promote coherence, efficiency and visibility of the Union’s cultural activities. On the other hand it aims to ensure that the best possible use be made of the cultural and creative sectors’ potential with regard to small and medium-sized enterprises, thus contributing to achieving the goals set out in the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs and its successor, the Europe 2020 strategy.
The European Agenda for Culture is guided by three sets of objectives:
- Promotion of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue
through fostering cultural diversity in the EU by, for instance, seeking to enhance the cross-border mobility of artists and workers in the cultural sector as well as the cross-border dissemination of works of art.
- Promotion of culture as a catalyst for creativity that makes a valuable contribution to promoting business in Europe and fostering the Union’s competitiveness.
- Promotion of culture as a vital element in the Union’s international relations: underlining the EU’s commitment to developing a new and more active role for Europe in international relations and to integrating the cultural dimension as a vital element in Europe’s relationships with partner countries and regions.
The European Agenda for Culture also strives to ensure that adequate account be taken of the promotion of culture and cultural diversity in all decisions or proposals that include a relevant regulation or have an impact on budgets.
The current Work Plan for Culture 2011-2014 that is based on the strategic goals defined in the European Agenda for Culture defines six priorities for the cultural sphere:
· Cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue and accessible and inclusive culture
· Cultural and creative industries
· Skills and mobility
· Cultural heritage, including mobility of collections
· Culture in external relations
· Preparation of standardised culture statistics
Working groups composed of experts nominated by the Member States strive to put these goals into practice by inter alia preparing manuals and strategies defining appropriate approaches for private and public arts and cultural institutions.
In cooperation with the Member States the European Commission is also pursuing the digitisation and digital preservation of Europe’s cultural heritage. This also includes activities related to Europe’s film heritage and to Europeana. The Commission and Member States also introduced the European Heritage Label that is to be awarded from 2012 onwards to European cultural sites that play a particularly important role in terms of European integration.
The Member States and the Commission also agreed to cooperate more closely in the field of culture and external relations. Since the adoption of the Cultural Agenda for Europe a new strategic framework for the cultural sector has evolved. Culture is increasingly perceived as a strategic factor in terms of fostering political, social and economic development. The role played by the cultural sector is also increasingly recognized in development strategies. In 2006, the EU, moreover, became a party to the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. In 2010 the Council set up a joint informal meeting format involving senior officers of culture ministries and senior officers responsible for cultural affairs at the foreign ministries. These meetings provide a platform for developing a strategic cultural concept for international relations and also foster cooperation among stakeholders. Two such senior-level meetings took place in 2011 under the Hungarian and Polish Council Presidencies.
In 2011, support under the EU “Culture” programme was provided to 308 institutions across Europe involving a total funding volume of 52 million euro. EU funding of 4.7 million euro was granted to 15 Austrian cultural institutions, representing a recovery rate of 390 per cent.
Under the EU programme “Europe for Citizens” funding of 28 million euro was granted in 2011 to 833 projects launched by civil society organisations, municipalities and cities. In this context, 14 Austrian institutions received funding of 575,000 euro. On 14 December 2011, the European Commission submitted a proposal for the Europe for Citizens follow-up programme 2014-2020. Funds of 229 million euro were thus earmarked to encourage and foster the twinning of towns, events centred on European history and civil society's discourse on Europe.
Moreover, the EU has set up specific cultural programmes directed at the Eastern Partnership countries that aim to support target countries in their cultural policy reforms and also promotes cultural programmes under the EUROMED Partnership.
The Commission published a Culture Programme Guide that contains all programmes as well as relevant conditions and deadlines. National Cultural Contact Points were established to provide information on the programmes and assist interested applicants. The Austrian National Contact Point is based at the Federal Ministry for Education, Arts and Culture.
In 1985 the European ministers responsible for cultural affairs took a Council decision to launch the “European City of Culture”. The programme was based on an initiative by the then Greek Culture Minister Melina Mercouri. In 1999 the “European City of Culture” initiative was integrated in the Community framework and renamed “European Capital of Culture”.
The list of European culture capitals that have already won the accolade include:
- 2012: Guimarães (Portugal) and Maribor (Slovenia)
- 2013: Marseilles (France) and Kosice (Slovakia)
- 2014: Umeå (Sweden) and Rīga (Latvia)