Culture at the heart of EU international relations

Weekly Commission meeting: Federica Mogherini, HRVP © European Union , 2016 / Photo: Jean-François Badias
Weekly Commission meeting: Federica Mogherini, HRVP © European Union , 2016   /   Photo: Jean-François Badias

Weekly Commission meeting: Federica Mogherini, HRVP © European Union , 2016 / Photo: Jean-François Badias

The European Commission and EU High Representative Vice-President Federica Mogherini adopted the Strategy for international cultural relations, which will contribute to making the EU a stronger actor on the global scene, one of the ten political priorities of the Commission.

EU High Representative / Vice-President Mogherini said: “Culture has to be part and parcel of our foreign policy. Culture is a powerful tool to build bridges between people, notably the young, and reinforce mutual understanding. It can also be an engine for economic and social development. As we face common challenges, culture can help all of us, in Europe, Africa, Middle East, Asia, stand together, to fight radicalisation, and build an alliance of civilisations against those trying to divide us. This is why cultural diplomacy must be at the core of our relationship with today’s world.”

European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, said:“Culture is the hidden gem of our foreign policy. It helps to promote dialogue and mutual understanding. Culture is therefore crucial in building long-term relationships with countries across the whole world: it has a great role to play in making the EU a stronger global actor.” The Strategy aims at encouraging cultural cooperation between the EU and its partner countries and promoting a global order based on peace, the rule of law, freedom of expression, mutual understanding and respect for fundamental values.

Culture can play an important role in the EU’s foreign policy. Cultural cooperation counters stereotypes and prejudice by nurturing dialogue, open-mindedness, dignity and mutual respect. Inter-cultural dialogue can help prevent conflicts and foster reconciliation within and between countries. Culture can help respond to global challenges such as the integration of refugees, countering violent radicalisation and the protection of the world’s cultural heritage. Culture can also be a tool to deliver important social and economic benefits both within and outside the EU.

Today’s Communication proposes a strategic framework for deeper and more effective international cultural relations as well as a new model for cooperation with Member States, national cultural institutes, private and public operators from the EU and its partner countries, increasing opportunities, creating synergies and maximising socio-economic benefits.

Culture is becoming more and more a vector for economic growth, not only in its traditional forms, but particularly through cultural and creative industries, SMEs and tourism. This strengthens the opinion that synergies with other fields are crucial and that public and private sector and civil society should be more and more involved.

Culture plays an important role also at municipal level. Engaging citizens, state actors and cultural operators alike, is a major resource for strengthening municipalities and communities and for developing market opportunities.

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