Croatian cities shortlisted for the title of European Capital of Culture 2020

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Dubrovnik, Osijek, Pula and Rijeka have been shortlisted today in the competition for the title of European Capital of Culture 2020. These recommendations were made by a panel of independent experts evaluating applications from all 9 competing Croatian cities at the outcome of a 3-day meeting in Zagreb.

Once confirmed by Croatia, the shortlisted cities have until early 2016 to complete their applications. The panel will then meet in Zagreb during the first half of 2016 make the final recommendation for 2020.

The chosen city will be the first Croatian city to hold this prestigious European Union (EU) title. Started in 1985, European Capitals of Culture have grown into one of the most ambitious cultural projects in Europe and become some of the best known – and most appreciated – activities of the EU.

European Capitals of Culture provide Europeans with an opportunity to learn more about each other's cultures and to enjoy their shared history and values: in other words, to experience the feeling of belonging to the same European community.

Just being shortlisted for the title can result in significant cultural, economic and social benefits for the cities concerned, provided that their bid is part of a longer-term culture-led development strategy.

As decided by the European Parliament and of the Council of EU Culture Ministers, Croatia and Ireland will host the event in 2020. Pre-selection in Ireland will take place in autumn.

Following Mons, Belgium, and Plzen, Czech Republic, this year, Wrocław, Poland, and Donostia-San Sebastián, Spain, will be European Capitals of Culture in 2016.

The following years will see Aarhus, Denmark, and Paphos, Cyprus, for 2017, Leeuwarden, Netherlands, and Valletta, Malta, in 2018, and Matera, Italy, and Plovdiv, Bulgaria, in 2019.

Background to the bid

Croatia invited applications from interested cities in June 2014. Nine Croatian cities applied: Đakovo, Dubrovnik, Osijek, Pula, Rijeka, Split, Varaždin, Zadar and Zagreb.

The applications were examined by a panel composed of 12 independent experts – two appointed by the Croatian Ministry of Culture and ten appointed by various European Union institutions and bodies.

According to the current system for designating the European Capitals of Culture, the selection has two rounds: a pre-selection round, where a shortlist of candidate cities is drawn up, and a final selection round nine months later. The selected cities are then officially designated by the country concerned.