|European Agenda for Culture|
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From early on in 2006, the European Commission had indicated a desire for an ambitious European agenda for culture, which would build on the result of a commissioned report on the ‘Economy of Culture’ (published in November 2006) and on the added profile for cultural actions that the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue 2008 was expected to bring.
In September 2006 the Commission launched an online consultation to gather the sector’s expectations for a future European agenda for culture. Over 200 organisations and individuals responded, but the consultation showed a clear predominance of respondents from the older member states. Read Culture Action Europe's submission and discussion paper.
On 4 December 2006, as the second step of its consultation on the future Communication, Directorate General for Education and Culture (DG EAC) held a public hearing entitled Culture: a sound investment for Europe. In addition to revealing some of the objectives to be pursued by the Communication, the meeting proved to be a public platform where the European Commission demonstrated its political commitment to push forward, during the German and Portuguese presidencies, a European agenda for culture. Both President Barroso and Commissioner Figel’ made very strong speeches in favour of an enhanced place for culture in the EU and Director general Odile Quintin committed herself to support the development of a representative consultative body of the civil society named, at the time, a European cultural agora.
Read our briefing on the public hearing.
Early 2007, as a final step before publication, DG EAC led an interservice consultation during which all Directorates General (DGs) of the Commission could comment and input in the final document. This exercise proved to be very successful in raising the DGs’ interest in cultural matters. However, in order to reach a consensus between the different DGs, it has also lowered the initial ambitions of the document.
The Communication on a European agenda for culture in a globalising world was published by the EC on the 10th of May 2007 after having been approved by the college of Commissioners on the same day. One of the strongest proposals of the EC in its Communication is to set up an Open Method of Coordination in the field of culture. This flexible soft law mechanism, to be embedded in the European Council work plan, has already been used in other fields of weak or complementary EU competence like education, youth or social affairs. The method works in stages: Members States fix guidelines and common objectives that they regularly review through a common system of reporting. Another important strand of the Communication is devoted to improving dialogue with European civil society.
On the 26th and 27th of September 2007, 400 participants took part in the first Cultural Forum for Europe, an initiative which results directly from the Communication on Culture’s proposals to implement a ‘structured dialogue’ with civil society. Organised by the Portuguese presidency, the event took place just before an Informal meeting of the EU Ministries of Culture, meant to prepare the Culture Council decision on the Communication in November.
To read the Contributions to the Cultural Forum resulting from an informal meeting Culture Action Europe’s member organisations and of Portuguese cultural organisations and networks.
During their November 2007 meeting, the European Ministers of Culture adopted the objectives and instruments proposed by the European Commission in its Communication on Culture. The Council resolution on the ‘European agenda for culture’ brings to a close the long negotiation and consultation process launched by the Commission early 2006.
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