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Strategic framework for the EU's cultural policy

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The European Commission’s defined priorities for 2019-2024 are highly relevant for policy making in the field of culture at EU level and for the key themes of European cultural cooperation.

These priorities are part of the overall political strategy of the European Union. 

The defined priorities remain highly relevant for policy making in the field of culture at EU level and for the key themes of European cultural cooperation.

For the period of 2019-24, the six political priorities of the European Commission are:

  1. A European Green Deal: striving to be the first climate-neutral continent
  2. A Europe fit for the digital age: empowering people with a new generation of technologies
  3. An economy that works for people: working for social fairness and prosperity
  4. A stronger Europe in the world: Europe to strive for more by strengthening our unique brand of responsible global leadership
  5. Promoting our European way of life: building a Union of equality in which we all have the same access to opportunities
  6. A new push for European democracy: nurturing, protecting and strengthening our democracy

Given their important role for economies and societies in the EU, cultural and creative sectors can greatly contribute to all of the above-mentioned priorities.

New European Agenda for Culture

Following the 2007 European Agenda for Culture, the Commission adopted the New European Agenda for Culture in 2018 to take into account the evolution of the cultural sector. The New Agenda and its accompanying Staff Working Document provide the framework for cooperation on culture at the EU level. These focus on the positive contribution that culture brings to Europe’s society, its economy and international relations. The Agenda also sets out enhanced working methods with Member States, civil society organisations and international partners.

Member States define the main topics and working methods for policy collaboration on culture through Work Plans for Culture, which are adopted by the Council of the European Union.

The New Agenda consists of three strategic areas, with specific objectives corresponding to social, economic and external dimensions.

Social

Aimed at harnessing the power of culture and cultural diversity for social cohesion and well-being, the Agenda seeks to

  • foster the cultural capability of all Europeans by making available a wide range of cultural activities and providing opportunities to participate actively
  • encourage the mobility of professionals in the cultural and creative sectors and remove obstacles to their mobility
  • protect and promote Europe's cultural heritage as a shared resource, to raise awareness of our common history and values and reinforce a sense of common European identity

Economic

With the goal of supporting culture-based creativity in education and innovation, for jobs and growth, the objectives of the Agenda are

  • promote the arts, culture and creative thinking in formal and non-formal education and training at all levels and in lifelong learning
  • foster favourable ecosystems for cultural and creative industries, promoting access to finance, innovation capacity, fair remuneration of authors and creators and cross-sectoral cooperation
  • promote the skills needed by cultural and creative sectors, including digital, entrepreneurial, traditional and specialised skills

External

The goal is to strengthen the EU’s international cultural relations through three objectives

  • support culture as an engine for sustainable social and economic development
  • promote culture and intercultural dialogue for peaceful inter-community relations
  • reinforce cooperation on cultural heritage

Based on experience gained from EU cooperation on culture over the last decade, the New Agenda is driven by strong cooperation with Member States and stakeholders, including civil society organisations and international partners.

Work Plans for Culture

Member States define their priorities for cultural policy making at EU level in multi-annual Work Plans adopted in form of conclusions by the Council of the EU. Next to the New European Agenda for Culture and in line with its strategic orientation, the Work Plan is established as a strategic and dynamic instrument of EU cultural cooperation that addresses current political developments and set priorities, with due regard for the EU principles of subsidiarity and proportionality.

The current Council Work Plan for Culture covering the period 2019-2022 sets out six priorities for European cooperation in cultural policy-making:

  1. Sustainability in cultural heritage
  2. Cohesion and well-being
  3. An ecosystem supporting artists, cultural and creative professionals and European content
  4. Gender equality
  5. International cultural relations
  6. Culture as a driver for sustainable development

18 key topics and corresponding actions are defined under each of these priorities for the Member States, the presidencies of the Council as well as for the Commission.

Their working methods and target outputs are clearly defined (including the Open Method of Coordination for expert groups.

The current plan continues the European Union’s actions taken up until now in the field of cultural heritage, social cohesion, financing and innovation as well as international cultural relations. Other topics and their corresponding actions are new, for instance music, gender equality or sustainable development.

The current Work Plan for Culture is the EU’s third, building on the 2015-18 Work Plan and 2011-2014 Work Plan.

European Framework for Action on Cultural Heritage

The European Commission proposed the first-ever European Framework for Action on Cultural Heritage in December 2018. The Framework’s aim is to capture and scale-up the success of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 and to ensure a lasting impact. 

Towards an EU strategy for international cultural relations

In 2016, the EU High Representative and Vice-President Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Navracsics presented the Joint Communication to the European Parliament and the Council - Towards an EU strategy for international cultural relations. Its aim is to put cultural cooperation at the centre of the EU's diplomatic relations with countries around the world.

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