What is it about?

Intercultural dialogue is, essentially, the exchange of views and opinions between different cultures.

Unlike multiculturalism, where the focus is on the preservation of separate cultures, intercultural dialogue seeks to establish linkages and common ground between different cultures, communities, and people, promoting understanding and interaction.

Why is it needed?

With 28 countries and many more cultural groupings and identities within the European Union, intercultural dialogue is essential for avoiding conflict and the marginalisation of citizens on the basis of their cultural identity.

What has been done so far?

The Commission has undertaken and supported a variety of initiatives to support intercultural dialogue, including through the Platform for Intercultural Europe and the Culture programme. These initiatives build on the success of the 2008 European year for intercultural dialogue.

One core area of activity has been intercultural dialogue with the Roma community; one of Europe's largest minorities. In addition to a variety of projects and initiatives, the Commission has a dedicated platform for tackling discrimination against Roma people.

From 2011-2014, a group of experts appointed by national governments met for voluntary policy coordination and to discuss the role of public arts and cultural institutions in the promotion of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue.

Its report, published in 2014, highlights good practices and challenges, and includes sixteen recommendations to cultural institutions and policymakers at national and EU levels.

What are the next steps?

Creative Europe funding provides scope for activities, within the EU and beyond, that promote openness towards other cultures and the integration of refugees and migrants.

Intercultural dialogue is on the agenda of the EU’s structured dialogue with civil society. Under the Voices of culture programme, discussions are taking place with interested stakeholders, on two relevant themes:

  • Promoting intercultural dialogue and bringing communities together through culture in shared public spaces
  • The role of culture in promoting the inclusion or refugees and migrants

In light of the unprecedented numbers of refugees and asylum seekers arriving in the EU, national culture ministers agreed in November 2015, to create a policy coordination working group on intercultural dialogue with a special focus on the integration of migrants and refugees in societies through the arts and culture. This takes the form of a series of meetings of experts nominated by national governments.