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International cooperation

What is it about?

The European Commission fosters cooperation on culture policy with individual countries outside the European Union (EU) - prioritising:

  • Neighbourhood countries;
  • Developing countries;
  • Strategic partners;
  • International organisations.

The Commission also aims to ensure culture and cultural diversity are appropriately addressed in the EU's external relations, trade, and development policies.

Why is it needed?

In an increasingly globalised world, cultural diversity and the importance of culture in external relations are on the rise.

In addition to this, the international community, through initiatives such as the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions or the Doha Development Agenda, is increasingly seeking to regulate and support the culture sector.

As such, there is an increasing need to ensure the representation of European interests in the culture sector in international trade and policy discussions.

What is the Commission's role?

Since the EU itself is a party to the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, the European Commission has produced a first four-year implementation reportpdf(629 kB) Choose translations of the previous link  , and also funds an expert facility on cultural governance.

Following a 2011 resolution from the European Parliament, voting a budget of €500,000 for work to develop a common EU strategy on culture in EU external relations, the Commission has led work on a Preparatory Action, commissioning a consortium of cultural institutes and organisations to work across 54 countries, including EU Member States, neighbouring countries, and strategic partners.

What has been achieved so far?

On an international level, the Commission has become a signatory of several agreements on culture policy, including:

These initiatives contribute both to strengthening trade with non-EU countries, as well as promoting intercultural dialogue on cultural issues.

What are the next steps?

The Commission is developing a strategy for culture in EU external relations, building primarily on: