Two cities short-listed for the title of European Capital of Culture 2021 in a candidate country or a potential candidate to EU membership

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Herceg Novi (Montenegro) and Novi Sad (Serbia) have been shortlisted today in the competition for the title of European Capital of Culture 2021 in a candidate country or potential candidate to EU membership. The recommendation was done by a panel of independent experts evaluating applications from two competing cities meeting in Bucharest today.

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.

Once the panel's recommendation has been confirmed by the European Commission, the shortlisted cities have until next autumn to complete their applications. The panel will then meet again in Brussels, most probably in October 2016, to recommend which city will be European Capital of Culture in 2021. The Commission will then formally designate this city.

In 2021, there will also be two other European Capitals of Culture, one in Romania and one in Greece. The pre-selection meeting for the Romanian competition took place on 7-10 December with four cities being recommended for the final round (Baia Mare, Bucharest, Cluj and Timisoara). The pre-selection round in Greece will take part in late February 2016.

Following Mons (Belgium) and Plzen (Czech Republic) this year, Wrocław (Poland) and Donostia-San Sebastián (Spain) will be European Capitals of Culture in 2016, Aarhus (Denmark) and Paphos (Cyprus) in 2017, Leeuwarden (Netherlands) and Valletta (Malta) in 2018, and Matera (Italy) and Plovdiv (Bulgaria) in 2019. Ireland and Croatia will each host a European Capital of Culture in 2020.


Romania invited applications from interested cities in December 2014. 14 Romanian cities applied: Alba Iulia, Arad, Bacau, Baia Mare, Braila, Brasov, Bucuresti, Cluj-Napoca, Craiova, Iași, Sfântu-Gheorghe, Suceava, Târgu-Mureș and Timisoara.

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

  • The members of the panel appointed by the European Union institutions and bodies currently are:
    Appointed by the European Commission: Steve Green (United Kingdom), who has an extensive experience of international cultural relations and the role of culture and languages in society with EUNIC (European Network of National Cultural Institutes) and the British Council; Jordi Pardo (Spain), CEO of the Pau Casals Foundation and expert in strategic planning and urban renewal through culture and tourism; Suzana Žilič Fišer (Slovenia), professor and head of media communications department at the University of Maribor and director general of Maribor – European Capital of Culture 2012.
  • Appointed by the Council: Ulrich Fuchs (Germany), deputy artistic director and programme director of Linz, European Capital of Culture 2009, and Marseille-Provence, European Capital of Culture 2013; Aiva Rozenberga (Latvia), programme director of Rīga, European Capital of Culture 2014; Pauli Sivonen (Finland), director of Serlachius Museum.
  • Appointed by the European Parliament: Sylvia Amann (Austria), who is specialised in urban, regional and rural development, culture and the creative economy; Cristina Farinha (Portugal), expert in the development of creative industries and national cultural strategies; Agnieszka Wlazeł (Poland), expert in audience development and former CEO and artistic director of art festivals.
  • Appointed by the Committee of the Regions: Anton Rombouts (Netherlands), mayor of the Dutch city of 's-Hertogenbosch and former Chairman of the Nederlands Dans Theatre.

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

In 2015 the European Capitals of Culture celebrate 30 years of success and achievements. Born in 1985, the European Capitals of Culture have grown into one of the most ambitious cultural projects in Europe and one of the best known – and most appreciated – activities of the EU. Their objectives are to promote the diversity of cultures in Europe, to highlight the common features they share and to foster the contribution of culture to the long-term development of cities.