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EU cultural diplomacy needs new impetus, says report

The European Union and its Member States stand to gain a great deal by using the 'soft power' of cultural diplomacy, with benefits for the economy through increased market access for European cultural and creative industries, strengthened cultural diversity and the wider sharing of European values.  

"Cultural diplomacy gives us an opportunity to share our European culture and values such as human rights, diversity and equality with other countries," said Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth. "It is also good for jobs and growth. I urge the future Commission and European Parliament to implement the report's recommendations."

The recommendations on how to increase the impact of Europe's cultural diplomacy include:

  1. Better co-ordination and dedicated staff such as cultural attachés in EU Delegations;

  2. New methods of funding and fundraising, including co-funding and public-private partnerships;

  3. Pooling resources of cultural organisations and Member States, especially via their cultural institutes and attachés abroad;

  4. Removing barriers to mobility, for example by facilitating visa requirements for cultural operators;

  5. Connecting with young people, for example by expanding educational and cultural exchange programmes;

  6. Focusing on cities and towns to identify key partners;

  7. Facilitating exchang e of experience and best practices between artists from different countries, cultural managers, journalists or writers;

  8. Empowering local cultural stakeholders by facilitating cooperation with cultural organisations and/or foundations;

  9. Improving monitoring and evaluation of projects and cultural diplomacy policies.

Next steps

The report and its recommendations will be discussed with representatives of the Member States and European Parliament. In the immediate future, such discussions will take place at a senior officials' meeting on 17 June under the Greek Presidency and will continue under the Italian Presidency. A meeting with MEPs will take place on 25 June.


The report is based on research in the 28 EU Member States and the following partner countries:

  1. 10 strategic partners: Brazil, Canada, China, India, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, South Korea and the United States of America.

  2. 16 neighbouring countries: Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, Occupied Palestinian Territory, Syria, Tunisia and Ukraine;

The report was prepared by a consortium of cultural institutes including the Goethe-Institut, Brussels, BOZAR, Centre for Fine Arts, Brusselsthe British Council, BrusselsThe Danish Cultural Institute, Brussels, and cultural stakeholders such as ECF European Cultural Foundation, IFA Institut fur Auslandsbeziehungen, the Institut français, ParisKEA European Affairs.

Culture as a key component of external relations is one of the three strategic objectives of the European Agenda for Culture, a comprehensive policy framework which has guided the joint work of the Commission and the Member States since 2007.

For more information

European Commission: Culture and culture in external relations

European Commission: Education and training

Androulla Vassiliou's website

Linkedin: Culture in external relations

Facebook: Culture in external relations and Creative Europe

Twitter: @VassiliouEU@Europe_Creative and @Cultextrel

Contacts :

Dennis Abbott (+32 2 295 92 58); Twitter: @DennisAbbott

Dina Avraam (+32 2 295 96 67)

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