Council of Europe - Culture
For the Council of Europe culture plays a key rolein implementing its mandate to strengthen human rights, democracy and the rule of law. In fact, encouraging awareness and promoting the development of Europe’s cultural identity and diversity is one of four main objectives pursued by the Council of Europe.
The Council of Europe’s Cultural Convention entered into force in 1955. This European Cultural Convention provides for mutual respect of Europe’s various national identities and aims to foster languages, history and society. Following some structural changes, all cultural aspects are now managed in the Council of Europe’s Secretariat by the Directorate of Democratic Governance, Culture and Diversity established on 1 October 2011 within the Directorate-General Democracy (DG II).
The Council of Europe’s cultural agenda covers a wide range of programmes that focus on providing support to governments in the field of cultural policy capacity-building as well as preparing analyses and reports on the individual member states’ cultural policies. The Council of Europe’s most important monitoring tool consists of its regular evaluations of members’ cultural policy. Under this programme, Austria’s National Report was evaluated in 1993. Recently Russia, as the 29th member state, submitted its National Report for evaluation to the Council of Europe.
Another important aspect of the Council of Europe’s activities is promoting and supporting European films, especially through the dedicated “Eurimages” fund. It also organises special exhibitions and launches specific programmes, dealing for instance, with issues related to the Roma community.
A main focus of the Council of Europe’s pro-active commitment to promoting education is multilingualism. This objective is further promoted by the European Centre for Modern Languages which the Council set up in Graz in 1994. Through its activities the centre strives to encourage language learning, provide assistance and advice to language teachers and promote excellence and innovation in language teaching. In order to stress the importance of multilingualism, the Council of Europe designated 29 September as the European Day of Languages.
Another initiative launched by the Council of Europe that is also of particular interest for Austrian municipalities is the “Cultural Routes” programme. A European cultural route leads through several countries or regions and centres focussed on special cultural themes displaying a historical, artistic or social meaning of a truly European dimension. Such cultural routes that are of interest because of their geographical routing or their thematic content and importance connect different locations thus establishing a network of dialogue and cultural tourism across Europe. The objective is to illustrate how the different heritages of European countries and their cultures contribute to and form part of the continent’s shared cultural heritage. In this context, special attention is given to themes that are of particular relevance for European integration, history, culture and values – thus also promoting sustainable tourism in destinations off the beaten track.
Currently there are 24 cultural routes in Europe, carrying the certificate of the Council of Europe. In Austria up to now three routes have been awarded (The Mozartroutes 2004, the Transromanica 2007 and the European Cemeteryroute 2010). A new route, the “Habsburgerstraße”, which also leads through Austria, is at present in the process of certification.
Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs, Dept. V.4, Email: AbtV4(at)bmeia.gv.at