Help Print this page 

Summaries of EU Legislation

Title and reference
Culture and the EU’s international relations

Summaries of EU legislation: direct access to the main summaries page.
Multilingual display

Culture and the EU’s international relations



Conclusions on the promotion of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue in the external relations of the EU and EU countries


  • They seek to encourage the European Commission and European Union (EU) countries to define approaches for conducting cultural relations with non-EU countries.
  • They have contributed to triggering a process whereby:
    • EU countries have adopted conclusions on culture in the EU’s external relations with a particular focus on its role in development cooperation; and
    • the Commission and the European External Action Service have issued a joint communication outlining the form that a future EU strategy for international cultural relations might take.


  • The conclusions stress that cultural exchanges and intercultural dialogue at the global level contribute greatly to bringing people together and strengthening society and the economy. With this in mind, the EU needs to incorporate culture into its external relations policies and programmes, as well as in its collaboration with non-EU countries and international organisations.
  • Among other things, they call on EU countries and the European Commission to:
    • encourage intercultural dialogue through projects, awareness-raising activities and exchanges of good practice inside and outside the EU both for cultural professionals and young people;
    • support the development of multilingualism and intercultural skills;
    • promote the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, to which the EU is a party;
    • define an EU strategy to incorporate culture into the EU’s external relations policies in a consistent and systematic manner, ensuring EU-level activities complement those of EU countries;
    • promote European cultural activities, goods and services outside the EU, as well as the international mobility of European cultural professionals;
    • help combat counterfeiting, piracy and the theft and trafficking of cultural goods at international level;
    • protect, preserve and promote cultural heritage.
  • With a view to better defining the EU’s strategies and activities in this area, the conclusions highlight the importance of a careful analysis of the cultural sectors of partner countries. They also highlight the need for:
    • funding programmes to be defined and tailored to the culture sector where production and distribution structures may be small and have specifically local features;
    • better information on support programmes and activities for potential participants;
    • more involvement of artists, cultural professionals and civil society in EU and partner countries in drawing up and implementing external cultural policies;
    • greater cooperation between EU countries’ cultural institutions working in partner countries and the development of networks.



Conclusions of the Council and of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States of 16 December 2008, meeting within the Council, on the promotion of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue in the external relations of the Union and its Member States (OJ C 320, 16.12.2008, pp. 10-12)


Joint communication to the European Parliament and the Council: Towards an EU strategy for international cultural relations (JOIN(2016) 29 final, 8.6.2016)

Council Conclusions on culture in the EU’s external relations with a focus on culture in development cooperation (OJ C 417, 15.12.2015, pp. 41–43)

last update 08.11.2016