Timișoara to be the European Capital of Culture in Romania in 2021

  • 4 years 1 month ago
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The selection panel of independent experts responsible for assessing the Romanian cities competing to be European Capital of Culture in 2021 has recommended that Timișoara should be awarded the title. Four cities had been short-listed after the initial pre-selection round in December 2015: Baia Mare, Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca and Timișoara.

The formal designation of Timișoara by the relevant Romanian authorities is expected to take place in the coming months.

Started in 1985 on the initiative of the then Greek Minister of Culture Melina Mercouri, European Capitals of Culture have developed 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. Along the years, the European Capitals of Culture have grown in scope and size, contributing to the cultural, social and economic development of many cities and their neighbouring regions across Europe.

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

In 2021, Romania will host its second European Capital of Culture after Sibiu in 2007. Interest was considerable, with 14 initial contenders narrowed down to four finalists. This number shows once again how popular this EU initiative is with cities and citizens. I congratulate Timișoara on its successful bid. I am confident that Timișoara will give visitors from Europe and all over the world the opportunity to discover the city and its cultural assets but also to appreciate the diversity of cultures in the European Union as well as our shared values. I am convinced that the title will bring Timișoara 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, there will be three European Capitals of Culture in 2021: one in Romania, one in Greece and one in a candidate country or potential candidate to EU membership. The selection meeting in Greece will take place in November 2016 while the selection meeting for the competition between cities in candidate countries/potential candidates will take place in Brussels next October.

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 (one city is recommended for the title). The selected cities are then officially designated by the Member State concerned.

Romania invited applications from interested cities in December 2014. Fourteen cities applied: Alba Iulia, Arad, Bacau, Baia Mare, Braila, Brasov, Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, Craiova, Iași, Sfântu-Gheorghe, Suceava, Târgu-Mureș and Timișoara. The pre-selection meeting took place in December 2015 and four cities (Baia Mare, Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca and Timișoara) were pre-selected and given until August 2016 to complete their applications.

The selection criteria state that cities should prepare a cultural programme with a strong European dimension, which fosters the participation of the city's stakeholders as well as its various neighbourhoods and attracts visitors from the whole country and Europe. The programme must have a lasting impact and contribute to the long-term development of the city. The cities must also show that they have the support from the relevant public local authorities and the capacity to deliver the project.

All applications in Romania 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.

More detail on the members of the panel is available.

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. Rijeka (Croatia) and Galway (Ireland) have been recommended to become European Capitals of Culture in 2020. 

European Capitals of Culture

Photo: Shutterstock

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