Culture plays a fundamental role in an array of policy areas, including sustainability, the economy, well-being, international cooperation and human rights. Access to culture and active participation in cultural activities provide numerous benefits throughout society and on an individual basis. As well as improving mental health, it encourages an inclusive society through positive intercultural dialogue, promoting respect for minorities and their integration into a community. In this way, culture forms a key component in many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and must be incorporated into a holistic approach to policy-making.

Culture Action Europe (CAE) works with 7 partners and 103 members from across Europe to drive dialogue on culture in Europe and promote its integration into all areas of policy-making, with the aim of developing social growth to realise a sustainable, open and democratic society.

In anticipation of the 2014 European Parliamentary elections, CAE sent a political manifesto presenting its vision for the European project and its demands for the future European Parliament to the European political parties, European political groups and all MEPs. This manifesto took the position that cultural development should be viewed as a strategic necessity in order to develop a sustainable future for Europe. It recognised the economic and social changes evolving in European society, and predicted the advancing divisions and rising nationalism that we have seen materialise.

We need to balance sustainable economic growth with a sustainable social model that includes cultural and community development. Democratic participation must be the basis of the future of Europe, as it is the only way to effectively address people’s priorities and their fears. A model of this kind demands combining qualitative and quantitative indicators, and thus requires a different form of assessment to categorical economic aims.

2018 has been named the European Year of Cultural Heritage, thanks to the efforts of the Culture and Education Committee, and notably MEP Silvia Costa (S&D, Italy) both in her time as President of the Culture and Education Committee and afterwards. This raises the profile of the role of culture in European society. MEP Petra Kammerevert (S&D, Germany), who is active in the area of digital technology and culture and the opportunities and challenges that arise from this technological advancement, took up the position of Chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education at the end of January 2017. CAE welcomes MEP Kammerevert’s appointment and looks forward to her contribution and direction in this role.

Key Developments

Intercultural Dialoguegree light

Openness to diversity is an essential cultural competence in modern Europe that is achievable through engagement in intercultural dialogue. The ‘Ward Report’ (or report on the role of intercultural dialogue, cultural diversity and education in promoting EU fundamental values) makes this point and associates intercultural dialogue with further benefits for democracy, liberty, human rights and tolerance.

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amberlightFreedom of movement for the arts

The ‘Ward Report’ (or report on the role of intercultural dialogue, cultural diversity and education in promoting EU fundamental values) emphasised the need for obstacles to the mobility of artists, educators, academics and culture professionals to be removed in order to promote worldwide cultural exchange and cooperation through simplification and harmonisation of visa procedures.

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amberlightSustainable development: societies that operate for the good of all citizens

In July 2017 the Parliament adopted a resolution on EU action for sustainability. In this report of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, Seb Dance (S&D, United Kingdom) stressed the importance of culture in any action to promote sustainability.

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International heritage protection and international gree lightcultural relations

Promotion of the value of cultural heritage acts as a response to deliberate destructive actions in conflict zones was highlighted by Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Commission, in the joint communication of 8 June 2016, ‘Towards an EU strategy for international cultural relations’.

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Standout MEPS

Silvia Costa
Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats

In her present term as MEP, Silvia Costa has authored a report on the implementation of Creative Europe Programme (2014-2020) and was responsible, along with Elmar Brok of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, for the joint report on ‘Towards an EU strategy for international cultural relations’. She has consistently placed a high value on culture and its possibilities, and has worked successfully towards the 2018 European Year for Cultural Heritage.

Julie Ward
Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats

MEP Julie Ward is the author of the highly significant ‘Ward Report’ (or report on the role of intercultural dialogue, cultural diversity and education in promoting EU fundamental values). MEP Ward has a strong history in the cultural sector, during which, as a citizen, rather than as a politician, she has fought to improve the well-being and empowerment of marginalised communities through the arts. As an MEP, Julie works closely with a range of cultural organisations to create links and develop European projects. She is a bold and energetic actor in the cultural field, pushing for the recognition of the importance of culture in a healthy society and its benefits for individuals, communities and mutual understanding.

Helga Trüpel
Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance

MEP Helga Trüpel has been Vice-Chair of the European Parliament's Committee on Culture and Education since 2004. She has fiercely combatted for adequate funding for the cultural sector at EU level in the Budget Committee. She has shown forward-looking understanding of the digital shift, with particular concern for socio-political and cultural implications. In the current Parliament, she has demonstrated a focus on creating opportunities for intercultural dialogue through mutual understanding and cultural exchange, including contributions made to the report on ‘Towards an EU strategy for international cultural relations’ and to reports evaluating the Creative Europe and Europe for Citizens programmes.