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International cultural cooperation

The EU fosters cultural cooperation with individual countries outside the EU, with regional groupings and with international organisations like UNESCO. Further, it gives due consideration to cultural diversity in all aspects of its external relations.

Developing a strategy

Since the adoption of the European Agenda for Culture in 2007, different players have been calling for a more strategic approach to culture in this field:

• Member States with the 2008 Council Conclusions on cultural diversity & intercultural dialogue pdf - 149 KB [149 KB]
• The European Parliament with its 2011 Resolution on the cultural dimensions of the EU external action
• Civil society, with the More Europe initiative

As part of this strategy setting process, the European Commission set up in 2012 a group of experts, which focused on the development of a strategic approach to cultural relations with third countries taking China as a test case.
Summary report of the group pdf - 32 KB [32 KB] Deutsch (de) français (fr)

Moreover, a large-scale mapping and consultation process is underway to identify existing resources, approaches, strategies and views regarding culture in external relations. This “preparatory action” will lead to recommendations for a strategic approach to culture in EU external relations.


The EU is party to the, UNESCO Convention on cultural diversity which serves as a general framework for EU policy on culture in its external relations, including trade and development cooperation.

The EU:
• shares the Convention's goal of ensuring that artists and cultural professionals can create, produce, and disseminate their work both locally and worldwide
• participates in the relevant bodies of the Convention with observer status
• has produced its first 4-year implementation report pdf - 630 KB [630 KB] français (fr) • funds an expert facility on cultural governance run by UNESCO under the programme 'Investing in People', with a budget of 1 million €.

International Trade

EU Trade policy takes into account cultural considerations, as required by the EU Treaty (Articles 207(4) and Article 167(4)) and the Unesco Convention.

Cultural aspects are taken into account in the Doha Development Agenda (DDA), the round of negotiations launched by the World Trade Organizations' members in 2001. The EU does not request countries outside the EU to make commitments on audio-visual services, nor does it table any such commitment itself.

Within the framework of the bilateral negotiations of trade, association and cooperation agreements with certain developing countries, the EU has been negotiating a specific Protocol or Agreement on Cultural Cooperation which implements a key provision of the 2005 UNESCO Convention : Article 16 on preferential treatment for developing countries' cultural goods and services as well as cultural practitioners.

- In 2007, Protocol on Cultural Cooperation pdf - 27 KB [27 KB] is concluded with the CARIFORUM countries within the framework of the EU-CARIFORUM EPA.

- In 2010, Protocol on Cultural Cooperation is concluded with the countries of Central America but is not yet in force.

- In 2011, Agreement on Cultural Cooperation pdf - 47 KB [47 KB] español (es)   is concluded with Peru and Colombia but is not yet in force.

- In 2009, Protocol on Cultural Cooperation with the Republic of Korea is negotiated and built around reciprocal treatment notably in the audio-visual field. The protocol is provisionally applied since 1 July 2011.

In depth

More information


Preparatory action


Culture in EU External Relations



Pilot project on the economy of cultural diversity

Pilot project on the economy of cultural diversity

@diversity: innovative ideas for cultural and creative sectors in Europe