Rijeka to be European Capital of Culture in Croatia in 2020

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The selection panel of independent experts responsible for assessing the Croatian cities competing to be European Capital of Culture in 2020 has recommended that Rijeka should be awarded the title. The other three cities short-listed after the initial pre-selection round in May 2015 were Dubrovnik, Osijek and Pula. The formal designation of Rijeka by the relevant Croatian authorities is expected to take place in the coming months.

Visit the Rijeka 2020 European Capital of Culture website.

Started in 1985 on the initiative of the then Greek Minister of Culture Melina Mercouri, European Capitals of Culture have grown into one of the most ambitious cultural projects in Europe and become one of the best known – and most appreciated – activities of the European Union.

The original motivation of the project is more relevant than ever. It is to provide Europeans with an opportunity to learn more about each other's cultures, to enter into intercultural dialogue and to enjoy their shared history and values: in other words, to experience the feeling of belonging to the same European community.

Tibor Navracsics, the European Commissioner responsible for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport said:

"Croatia was the latest country to join the European Union in July 2013 and this will be the first ever European Capital of Europe in this country, putting not only the winning city but the whole Croatia under the European spotlight. Today, I sincerely congratulate Rijeka on its successful bid. The competition was an intensive one, with 9 initial contenders narrowed down to four finalists last spring."

"This high number of participants is a testimony of the long-standing attractiveness of this European Union action. I am confident that Rijeka will give visitors from Europe and all over the world the opportunity to discover not only the city itself and its cultural assets but also to appreciate the cultural diversity and the shared values of the EU. I am convinced that the title will bring Rijeka and its surrounding area significant long-term cultural, as well as economic and social benefits, as we have seen with many previous European Capitals of Culture."


In accordance with the Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council which governs the European Capitals of Culture Union action , Croatia and Ireland are the two Member States entitled to host the event in 2020.

According to the current scheme 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 round nine months later. The selected cities are then officially designated by the Member State concerned.

Croatia invited applications from interested cities in June 2014. Nine Croatian cities applied: Đakovo, Dubrovnik, Osijek, Pula, Rijeka, Split, Varaždin, Zadar and Zagreb. A pre-selection meeting took place in May 2015 and four cities (Dubrovnik, Osijek, Pula and Rijeka) were pre-selected and given until February 2016 to complete their applications. In Ireland, the preselection took place in November 2015 with three cities short-listed (Galway, Limerick and Waterford for the three Sisters) and the final selection meeting will take place on 14-15 July 2016.

All applications are examined by a panel composed of 12 independent experts – two appointed by the national authorities and ten appointed by the Union institutions and bodies.

The criteria state that cities should prepare a cultural programme with a strong European dimension, which fosters the participation of citizens in the city as well as its neighbourhood and attract visitors from the whole country and Europe. The programme must have a lasting impact and contribute to the long-term development of the city.

Find out who's on the panel appointed by European Union institutions and bodies (see bullet points)

Following Wrocław (Poland) and Donostia-San Sebastián (Spain) this year, Aarhus (Denmark) and Paphos (Cyprus) will be European Capitals of Culture in 2017, Leeuwarden (Netherlands) and Valletta (Malta) in 2018, and Matera (Italy) and Plovdiv (Bulgaria) in 2019.

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