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 Creative Europe and its predecessor, the Culture programme. These initiatives build on the success of the 2008 European year for intercultural dialogue, and the 2008-13 Platform for Intercultural Europe.

A longstanding area of activity has been intercultural dialogue with the Roma community, Europe's largest ethnic minority. The Commission has developed a range of relevant projects and initiatives, including to tackle discrimination against Roma people. From 2011-2014, a group of experts appointed by national governments met for voluntary policy coordination and produced a report on the role of public arts and cultural institutions in the promotion of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue.

In 2015, in light of the unprecedented numbers of refugees and asylum seekers arriving in the EU, national culture ministers agreed to create a new policy coordination group on intercultural dialogue, focussing on the integration of migrants and refugees in societies through the arts and culture. This group’s report (executive summary), published in 2017, includes 23 recommendations focussed on three themes

  • empowerment through intercultural dialogue and the arts
  • intersectoral and partnership working
  • evaluation of intercultural dialogue objectives and projects

The report also includes 46 case studies many of which also feature on the European Website for Integration, among over 400 good practices relating to intercultural dialogue, cultural activities and diversity.

Intercultural dialogue is also on the agenda of the EU’s structured dialogue with civil society. Under the Voices of Culture programme, discussions took place with interested stakeholders in 2016, on two relevant themes:

What are the next steps?

Creative Europe funding provides scope for activities, within the EU and beyond, that promote intercultural dialogue, openness towards other cultures and the integration of refugees and migrants.  Following a special call for projects in 2016, 12 refugee integration projects are being funded from 2017-18.

Policy collaboration continues among national governments, with a focus on social inclusion. Building on the work of the 2014 and 2016 groups mentioned above, and as set out in the 2015-18 Work Plan for Culture, a new voluntary working group of experts is meeting from 2017-18 on the theme "Fostering the contribution of culture for social inclusion".