EU strategy for international cultural relations
The Joint Communication “Towards an EU Strategy for international cultural relations” (JOIN(2016) 29 final, of 8 June 2016) is a milestone in EU policy development, and highly relevant to EU implementation of the 2005 Convention. It was produced by the European Commission and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, who is responsible for the European External Action Service.
Its aims are to encourage cultural cooperation between the EU and partner countries, and promote a global order based on peace, the rule of law, freedom of expression, mutual understanding and respect for fundamental values. The underlying rationale is to promote international cultural relations based on long-term engagement, mutual interest and understanding, people-to-people contacts and co-creation.
It restates the EU’s commitment to the 2005 Convention: “As a party to the...Convention… the EU is committed to promoting the diversity of cultural expression as part of its international cultural relations. This reflects and promotes the EU's fundamental values, such as human rights, gender equality, democracy, freedom of expression and the rule of law, as well as cultural and linguistic diversity”.
In the section on supporting culture as an engine for social and economic development, the Communication cites the Convention, on the “the need to incorporate culture as a strategic element in national and international development policies, as well as in international development cooperation.” It states further that “The respect for cultural diversity and freedom of expression that is fostered by culture provides important support for democratisation processes and socio-economic development. Accordingly, the EU should help partner countries incorporate culture in national policies. The EU works to advance the ratification and implementation of the 2005 UNESCO Convention by deepening policy dialogues with partner countries and strengthening systems of governance”.
The Joint Communication proposes an EU Strategy for International Cultural Relations that focuses on advancing cultural cooperation with partner countries across three main strands: supporting culture as an engine for sustainable social and economic development; promoting culture and intercultural dialogue for peaceful inter-community relations; reinforcing cooperation on cultural heritage.
It identifies guiding principles for EU action in international cultural relations: promote cultural diversity and respect for human rights, foster mutual respect and intercultural dialogue, respect for complementarity and subsidiarity, encourage a cross-cutting approach to culture, promote culture through existing frameworks for cooperation.
It underlines the importance for the relevant stakeholders to join forces to ensure complementarity and synergies in order to advance successful cooperation with partner countries in the three work streams proposed. This includes government at all levels, local cultural organisations and civil society, the Commission and the High Representative (through EU Delegations in third countries), Member States and their cultural institutes
A key aspect is the more active role to be taken by EU delegations acting in close partnership with the cultural institutes of the Member States, in order to develop a truly European dimension in international cultural relations.
Contribution to the Commission's priority to make the EU a stronger global actor.
Better integration of culture in the EU's external relations agenda.
Deeper and more effective international cultural relations based on long-term engagement, mutual interest and understanding, peer-learning, and co-creation.
Develop new models for cooperation with and among Member States, in particular their national cultural institutes.
The implementation of the Joint Communication relies on a number of different existing EU instruments and frameworks for cooperation. It does not entail extra financial resources. The Communication refers to funding from a range of EU programmes, described in more detail in the Communication, and elsewhere in this report.