Culture and regional development – Cohesion policy
Examples across European cities and regions show how culture can be used within an integrated approach to sustainable development in order to diversify local economies or boost economies in decline by creating growth and jobs, foster social cohesion and build branding leverage. These experiences equally help to illustrate the link between culture and sustainable development when
addressing these issues in the framework of our cooperation with third countries.
The core aim of cohesion policy is to reinforce the conditions for a balanced development across the EU by boosting employment and growth potential and by strengthening the human and social capital
on local and regional level. Culture may be financed under all three objectives of cohesion policy (convergence, regional competitiveness and employment, territorial cohesion) and, mainly, through two structural funds (European Fund for Regional Development and European Social Fund).
The strategic objectives and overall policy framework are agreed upon at EU level. On this basis, Member States and regions set up, in consultation with the Commission, operational programmes outlining specific objectives. Priorities are jointly decided upon between Member States and the Commission, but the funds are managed by Managing Authorities in the Member States.
For the total of 434 operational programmes in Member States over the period 2007-2013 amounting to € 347 billion, the Member States have earmarked € 6.14 billion for the ‘Culture’ heading. This
includes € 3.1 billion for protection and preservation of cultural heritage, € 2.3 billion for the development of cultural infrastructure, and € 0.75 billion for assistance to improve cultural services.
Further support to culture is provided under other relevant headings such as Tourism, Urban regeneration, Research Technology Development, SME promotion, information society and human capital. Reporting figures on 31 December 2010 indicated that a substantial part of the amounts planned for the ‘Culture’ heading (63 %) has already been allocated by the Member States to selected operations.
In addition, the Commission manages two programmes which finance cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation, including in the area of culture (INTERREG123 and URBACT124). A valuable contribution towards further mainstreaming culture in regional development comes from innovative actions and territorial cooperation schemes carried out during the period 2000-2007, for instance 42 projects under the category ‘heritage, culture and tourism’ of interregional cooperation (INTERREG III c).
The Commission proposals for cohesion policy programmes for the period 2014-2020 (€376 billion) were adopted in 2011 and are currently being discussed in the context of the legislation procedure at the Council and the European Parliament.125 The new proposals are designed to reinforce the strategic dimension of the policy and to ensure that EU investment is targeted on Europe's long-term goals for growth and jobs ("Europe 2020"). Investment priorities are likely to cover all the sectors including culture.