The European Commission closely cooperates with Member States, at the Council of the European Union, in particular the Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council (EYCS) and the Cultural Affairs Committee (CAC). Aside from political meetings, part of this cooperation is also accomplished at the expert level through the Open Method of Coordination.
As the executive arm of the EU, the European Commission is accountable to the European Parliament - more specifically, in the area of culture, to its Committee on Culture and Education.
EU activities run alongside cooperation at other levels, including civil society organisations, cultural stakeholders and other actors such as cities and regions or international organisations such as the Council of Europe, UNESCO, or OECD.
Dialogue with the Member States: Open Method of Coordination
EU Member States have much to gain in exchanging good practices on designing policies and funding schemes. This form of cooperation is called the "Open Method of Coordination" (OMC), and is used in many policy areas. The OMC is a light but structured way which Member States also use to cooperate at European level in the field of culture. It creates a common understanding of the issues and helps to build consensus on solutions and their practical implementation.
Under the OMC, experts from ministries of culture and national cultural institutions meet 5 to 6 times over 18 months to produce policy manuals or toolkits that are widely shared throughout Europe. The Commission is responsible for organising the OMC, hosting most of its meetings, and supporting members of OMC groups with research and studies. It is the responsibility of national governments to designate the members of each group that then elect their own chairperson.
In the Work Plan for Culture 2019-2022, Member States agreed to focus on
- starting in 2019 - two new OMC groups on: Gender equality and Audiovisual co-productions
- starting in 2020 - two new OMC groups on: High-quality architecture and built environment and Multilingualism and translation
- starting in 2021 - three new OMC groups on: Status and working conditions of artists, Adaptation to climate change and Cultural dimension of sustainable development
OMC expert groups have been meeting since 2008, working on topics such as cultural and creative industries, access to culture, links between culture and education, social inclusion or sustainable cultural tourism. Some of the OMC groups’ reports published in recent years and convened under the Work Plan for Culture 2015-2018 of the Council include
- From social inclusion to social cohesion: the role of culture policy (2019)
- Sustainable cultural tourism (2019)
- Fostering cooperation in the European Union on skills, training and knowledge transfer in cultural heritage professions (2019)
- The role of public policies in developing entrepreneurial and innovation potential of the cultural and creative sectors together with Overview of EU policies and studies related to entrepreneurship and innovation in cultural and creative sectors (2018)
- Participatory governance of cultural heritage (2018)
- Promoting access to culture via digital means: policies and strategies for audience development (2017) and its sub-group on Promoting reading in the digital environment (2016)
Find out more OMC reports published at the Publications Office of the European Union.
Dialogue with the sector
In the New European Agenda for Culture the Commission commits to strengthen the dialogue with organisations from the cultural sector. Such cooperation is one of the pre-requisites for its successful implementation.
The Commission regularly organises the European Culture Forum bringing together stakeholders and decision-makers to discuss key issues. Four European Culture Forums have taken place since 2009.
Structured dialogue provides a framework for discussions between EU civil society stakeholders and the European Commission. It aims to strengthen the advocacy capacity of the cultural sector in policy debates on culture at a European level, while encouraging these organisations to work in a more collaborative way.
Cultural stakeholders meet within Voices of Culture, the strand of Structure Dialogue running since 2015. This is currently run by the Goethe-Institut on behalf of the European Commission.
The themes recently addressed by the Voices of Culture dialogue are
- The role of culture in the non-urban areas of the European Union (2020)
- Gender equality: gender balance in the cultural and creative sectors (2019)
Find out more themes from previous editions.