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Former programmes and actions

The current range of co-operative cultural activities and initiatives instigated and supported by the EU builds on the experience of past programmes.

How it all began

In 1993, the enactment of Treaty of Maastricht gave rise to a new article in which cultural co-operation became a recognised aim of EU action, with an accompanying legal basis. As a result, an initial range of pilot programmes and subsequent sectoral programmes was launched.

The background to these had already been prepared when the Commission published the selection criteria and conditions for participation in the Platform Europe, which became the first Kaleidoscope programme in support of artistic and cultural events involving at least three Member States. 

This was reorganised to encourage artistic creation and cooperation, to promote better public access to European heritage and improve artistic and cultural cooperation between professionals. More than 500 cultural projects received Community support, several pilot projects were initiated in the area of translation and the promotion of books, providing support for more than 500 projects or translations.

These pilots then gave rise to three full cultural programmes:

  • Kaleidoscope (1996-1999), to encourage artistic and cultural creation and co-operation with a European dimension
  • Ariane (1997-1999), supporting books and reading, including translation
  • Raphael (1997-1999), to complement Member States' policies in the area of cultural heritage of European significance

Culture 2000

With this experience to build on, preparatory actions were undertaken in 1999 to bring Culture 2000 into play. This was an EU programme established for seven years (2000-2006). It differed from earlier financial instruments in that it provided grants to cultural co-operation projects in all artistic and cultural fields.

The objective of Culture 2000 was to promote cultural diversity and a shared cultural heritage. The programme had three actions to support artistic and cultural projects with a European dimension. Activities supported included festivals, master classes, exhibitions, new productions, tours, translations and conferences.