On May 10, 2007, the European Commission adopted a policy statement on the role of culture in a globalizing world. It suggests the first-ever European strategy for culture. The statement affirms the central role of culture in the process of European integration and suggests a cultural agenda for Europe and its relations with third world countries. The press release distributed on this occasion explains that the new policy stance, entitled “A European agenda for culture in a globalizing world,” takes the form of a Commission Communication and is complemented by an accompanying Staff Working Paper that describes the many ways in which the European Union supports culture. These documents were prepared following extensive public consultations with stakeholders.
According to the press release, “the policy statement presents three major objectives that together form a cultural strategy for the European institutions, the member states, and the cultural and creative sector: 1. Promotion of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue; 2. Promotion of culture as a catalyst for creativity in the framework of the Lisbon Strategy; and 3. Promotion of culture as a vital element in the Union’s international relations.”
The communication “proposes measures to make culture an even stronger part of political dialog with partner countries and regions around the world, promoting cultural exchanges and systematically integrating culture in development programs and projects. In order to support specific actions in ACP countries [African, Caribbean, and Pacific States], the European Commission is proposing to create an EU-ACP Cultural Fund as a joint European contribution to supporting the distribution—and in some cases the production—of ACP cultural goods.” According to the European Commission, this Fund will encourage the emergence of local markets and industries and will increase the access of ACP cultural goods to European markets. The press release explains that the European Commission proposes to allocate a Community contribution to the fund of about EUR 30 million for the period 2007–2013 and invites member states to contribute additional funding.
The press release adds that the new policy direction also suggests the introduction of a more structured system of cooperation among member states and the EU institutions on cultural matters. It is also expected that “this communication will seek to involve the cultural sector—ranging from individual artists and performers to the creative and cultural industries—more closely in European affairs. It therefore seeks to introduce improved structures for dialog and partnership with these stakeholders through a new ‘Cultural Forum.’”
Lastly, the press release explains that the European strategy for culture will be complemented by other actions by the EU in the area of culture, such as the forthcoming European Year for Intercultural Dialogue 2008. For more information on this new strategy, visit the European Commission website.