EUR-Lex Access to European Union law

Back to EUR-Lex homepage

This document is an excerpt from the EUR-Lex website

Document 52018DC0267


COM/2018/267 final

Brussels, 22.5.2018

COM(2018) 267 final


A New European Agenda for Culture

{SWD(2018) 167 final}


On the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome, the Leaders of 27 Member States and EU institutions stated their ambition for a Union where citizens have new opportunities for cultural and social development and economic growth. [..] a Union which preserves our cultural heritage and promotes cultural diversity 1 . This was confirmed at the Gothenburg Leaders' Summit in November 2017 and by the European Council in December 2017 2 , which also highlighted the 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage 3 as a pivotal opportunity to increase awareness of the social and economic importance of culture and heritage. 

The Commission stated in its Communication on Strengthening European Identity through Education and Culture 4 , that it is in the shared interest of all Member States to harness the full potential of education and culture as drivers for jobs, economic growth, social fairness, active citizenship as well as a means to experience European identity in all its diversity.

Europe's rich cultural heritage and dynamic cultural and creative sectors strengthen European identity, creating a sense of belonging. Culture promotes active citizenship, common values, inclusion and intercultural dialogue within Europe and across the globe. It brings people together, including newly arrived refugees and other migrants, and helps us feel part of communities. Culture and creative industries also have the power to improve lives, transform communities, generate jobs and growth, and create spill over effects in other economic sectors.

The New European Agenda for Culture (the New Agenda) responds to the European Leaders' invitation to do more, through culture and education, to build cohesive societies and offer a vision of an attractive European Union 5 . It aims to harness the full potential of culture to help build a more inclusive and fairer Union, supporting innovation, creativity and sustainable jobs and growth.

2.The challenges and the ambition

Emerging from a severe financial crisis, Europe faces growing social inequalities, diverse populations, populism, radicalisation, and terrorist threats. New technologies and digital communication are transforming societies, changing lifestyles, consumption patterns and power relationships in economic value chains. In this changing landscape, the role of culture is more important than ever. In a 2017 Eurobarometer survey, 53% of respondents consider that Member States are close in terms of shared values, whereas 40% believe they are distant. Culture can help bridge this divide, since it tops the list of factors most likely to create a feeling of community 6 . However, Eurostat data show that more than a third of Europeans do not participate at all in cultural activities 7 . So there is clear scope to increase cultural participation, and bring Europeans together to experience what connects us rather than what divides us. Yet, market fragmentation, insufficient access to finance and uncertain contractual conditions continue to hinder cultural and creative sectors and depress the income of their professionals.

The New Agenda, backed with appropriate funding will exploit synergies between culture and education and strengthen links between culture and other policy areas. It will also help cultural and creative sectors overcome the challenges and grasp the opportunities of the digital shift.

3.Legal basis and first steps

The legal basis for action in the area of culture at EU level is Article 3 of the Treaty on European Union and Article 167 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. 8 Member States have exclusive competence on cultural policy, while the Union’s role is to encourage cooperation and support and supplement Member States’ actions. EU policy cooperation received a major boost through the 2007 Commission Communication, endorsed by the Council 9 , on a "European Agenda for Culture in a Globalised World" 10 . The European Parliament has also supported that Agenda through political resolutions and pilot projects.

An impressive number of actions 11 have been undertaken by Member States since then, inspired by EU policy collaboration through successive Council Work Plans for Culture, through projects funded by EU programmes, and through macro-regional strategies 12 .

The European Council has now tasked the EU to do more in this area and to examine further possible measures addressing, among others, the legal and financial framework conditions for the development of cultural and creative industries and the mobility of professionals of the cultural sector2.

4.Strategic Objectives and Actions

The New Agenda has three strategic objectives, with social, economic and external dimensions.

4.1Social dimension - harnessing the power of culture and cultural diversity for social cohesion and well-being

·Foster the cultural capability 13 of all Europeans by making available a wide range of cultural activities and providing opportunities to participate actively

·Encourage the mobility of professionals in the cultural and creative sectors and remove obstacles to their mobility

·Protect and promote Europe's cultural heritage as a shared resource, to raise awareness of our common history and values and reinforce a sense of common European identity

Cultural participation brings people together. Culture is an ideal means of communicating across language barriers, empowering people and facilitating social cohesion, including among refugees, other migrants and host populations. Under the 2007 European Agenda, policymakers and practitioners have agreed ways of using participatory arts to promote understanding, empower people, and increase self-confidence 14 .

Culture is a transformative force for community regeneration. The successful 30-year history of the European Capitals of Culture demonstrates this, as do cultural infrastructure projects funded by European Structural and Investment Funds. The European Year is spotlighting the transversal contribution of heritage to European societies and economies. There is a new, adaptive approach to shaping our built environment – and it is rooted in culture 15 .

Cultural participation also improves health and well-being. 71% of Europeans recently surveyed agreed "living close to places related to Europe's cultural heritage can improve quality of life" 16 . And research 17 confirms that cultural access is the second most important determinant of psychological well-being, preceded only by the absence of disease.

But social and financial barriers to cultural participation remain, despite cultural organisations' efforts to adapt to changing patterns of cultural consumption and composition of the population. So a new approach is proposed with cultural capability as the guiding principle. This means making available a wide range of quality cultural activities, promoting opportunities for all to take part and to create, and strengthening links between culture and education, social affairs, urban policy, research and innovation 18 .

To increase participation, greater circulation of European artworks and of professionals in the European cultural and creative sectors is required. Building on solid evidence 19 , the EU will continue to support policy and financing, but Member States will need to do more to remove administrative obstacles such as the risk of double taxation of artists and art professionals.

The Commission will:

·Support research on cultural cross-overs to assess impacts in different fields including health and wellbeing (2018)

·Develop specific actions for social inclusion through culture, through Creative Europe and Erasmus+ 20 and consider selection criteria for Creative Europe to incentivise gender equal project management (2019)

·Launch a project on "Cultural and creative spaces and cities" under Creative Europe to promote cultural participation and social and urban regeneration (2018)

·Propose a mobility scheme for professionals in the cultural and creative sectors under Creative Europe (2018-2019)

The Commission invites Member States to:

·Commit to substantive progress in removing administrative and fiscal obstacles to mobility, inter alia through the next Work Plan for Culture

4.2 Economic dimension - supporting culture-based creativity in education and innovation, and for jobs and growth

·Promote the arts, culture and creative thinking in formal and non-formal education and training at all levels and in lifelong learning

·Foster favourable ecosystems for cultural and creative industries, promoting access to finance, innovation capacity, fair remuneration of authors and creators and cross-sectoral cooperation

·Promote the skills needed by cultural and creative sectors, including digital, entrepreneurial, traditional and specialised skills

Culture and creativity are important assets for the economy. Culture contributes directly to jobs, growth and external trade. EU cultural employment increased steadily between 2011 and 2016, when it reached 8.4 million. There is a EUR 8.7 billion trade surplus in cultural goods 21 , and cultural and creative sectors are estimated to contribute 4.2% to EU gross domestic product 22 . Innovative economic sectors also need creativity to maintain competitive advantage. Urban and rural communities increasingly rely on culture to attract employers, students and tourists.

Culture, the arts, creativity and creative industries are interdependent. Combining knowledge and skills specific to cultural and creative sectors with those of other sectors helps generate innovative solutions, including in information and communication technology, tourism, manufacturing, services, and the public sector. To tap into this transformative power, the Commission proposes to focus on three specific eco-systems: education and training, cities and regions, and cultural and creative industries themselves, in order to create supportive environments for culture-led innovation.

Education and training: There is a clear link between levels of education and participation in culture. Cross-sectoral action on Cultural Awareness and Expression - one of the eight key competences recognised at European level - will be explored in the context of the revised Key Competence Framework for Lifelong Learning 23 . There is also consensus on the need for transferable competences and skills, which stimulate creativity and critical thinking. The Commission has supported the work of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on how to teach, learn and assess creative and critical thinking 24 , which is now the innovative domain for the Programme for International Student Assessment 2021 (PISA). This focus on creative and critical thinking should be extended to all levels of education and training, in line with the shift in approach from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) to STEAM, including the Arts 25 .

Cities and regions: Cultural and creative sectors have huge capacity for experimentation, anticipating trends, and exploring models of social and economic innovation. Cities and regions are natural partners 26 : at the forefront of culture-led development thanks to greater local autonomy, the attraction they exert on high-talent individuals, and their proximity to their inhabitants' needs and potential. Culture and tourism are powerful drivers of economic activity. Cities that invest in culture can reap substantial rewards, attracting more jobs and human capital than other comparable cities, as shown by the Cultural and Creative Cities Monitor, developed by the Commission's Joint Research Centre 27 . In rural areas, restoration and upgrading of cultural and natural heritage contributes to growth potential and sustainability 28 . Integrated management of cultural and natural assets encourages people to discover and engage with both 29 .

Planning is necessary, but innovation must also be allowed through bottom-up processes, creative hubs 30 and incubators, where freelancers and creatives co-work and co-create. Clusters of enterprises in creative sectors have also shown they can generate high employment growth 31 , and already around 6% of all 1,300 regional smart specialisation priorities refer to culture 32 . Regional and European Territorial Cooperation create growth and jobs and promote Europe as a destination, including via macro-regional cultural routes 33 . There is scope to build on these experiences to enhance the role of culture for innovation-led territorial development.

Cultural and creative industries: To turn opportunities into growth and jobs, cultural and creative enterprises and professionals need favourable framework conditions: a regulatory environment that rewards creation, better access to finance, opportunities to scale up and internationalise, and a supply of specific skills.

For many Europeans, particularly younger people, cultural employment is an important entry point to the labour market (in Latvia, Romania, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Portugal, Estonia and Spain a higher proportion of 15-29 year-olds are employed in culture than in the economy as a whole). But the prevalence of project-based, atypical and part-time employment can be problematic. Adapting the regulatory framework to provide coverage and social protection to intermittent and increasingly mobile workers represents a major policy challenge. Fair remuneration of authors and creators is another objective the Commission is addressing in the Digital Single Market Strategy.

Access to finance remains a major challenge for a sector overwhelmingly composed of SMEs and micro-businesses. The Cultural and Creative Sector Guarantee Facility, available under Creative Europe, has made a promising start and will be strengthened. Other instruments will continue to be explored such as crowdfunding 34 and private funding from sponsorship, foundations, and private-public partnerships.

Professionals in the cultural and creative sectors require a broad mix of digital, traditional, transversal and specialised skills. The New Agenda builds on ongoing policy work, particularly on entrepreneurial 35 and heritage skills.

The New Agenda prioritises a cross-sectoral approach to EU collaboration, as digitisation and co-creation continue to break down artistic and economic boundaries. This will be complemented by specific initiatives in the most mature sectors, to support more effectively the rich diversity of European cultural expressions.

The Commission will:

·Support the validation phase of the project "Teaching, assessing and learning creative and critical thinking skills in education" of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), with a view to including a creativity module in the Programme for International Student Assessment 2021; and explore possibilities for similar work in higher education and training (2018)

·Promote music and the arts in education and training, including as a priority theme in Erasmus+ (2019), and promote the development of creativity oriented interdisciplinary modules in higher education institutions, combining arts, information and communication technology, entrepreneurial and business skills (2018)

·Continue to support regions implementing Smart Specialisation and macro-regional strategies focused on culture and promote sustainable cultural tourism through a dedicated European initiative in the European Year

·Support partnerships between creative professionals and industries and European incubation networks for creativity-driven innovation integrating creativity, art and design with cutting-edge technology and science

·Carry out a pilot project fostering stronger partnerships between cultural and creative sectors, local authorities, social partners and education and training providers (2018)

·Explore a European Institute of Innovation and Technology Knowledge and Innovation Community on cultural heritage and creative industries (2019)

·Organise a regular dialogue with cultural and creative sectors in the context of the renewed Industrial Policy Strategy, to identify policy needs and underpin a comprehensive policy framework at EU level

·Organise a regular dialogue with the music sector and carry out the Preparatory Action "Music Moves Europe"

·Strengthen dialogue with the European audiovisual industry, including through European Film Forum events (2018)

·Support Member States in ensuring fair remuneration for artists and creators through general and sector-specific dialogues, in line with the Digital Single Market Strategy (2019)

The Commission invites Member States to:

·Commit to improving the socio-economic conditions of artists and creators and promoting arts education and training under the next Work Plan

4.3External dimension - Strengthening international cultural relations

·Support culture as an engine for sustainable social and economic development

·Promote culture and intercultural dialogue for peaceful inter-community relations

·Reinforce cooperation on cultural heritage

With the 2016 Joint Communication "Towards an EU strategy for international cultural relations" 36 , the EU has established a framework for cultural cooperation with partner countries. This is fully in line with the UNESCO 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, to which the EU and all Member States are Parties 37 . The Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy 38 has identified cultural diplomacy as a new field for EU joined-up external action. The New European Consensus on Development 39 recognises the role of culture as an important component and enabler.

The Commission, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (the High Representative) and their services - including the European External Action Service (EEAS) - fully support ongoing work within the Council to draw up a comprehensive step-by-step approach to international cultural relations. Action by the EU brings synergies and added value 40 , especially in light of the expanded role of EU Delegations. Cultural focal points in EU Delegations are being trained on the cultural dimension of development and external relations, to better disseminate best practice and meet the needs and expectations of local partners.

The New Agenda enables culture to be promoted more effectively as a vector of identity and cohesion, a driver of socio-economic development, and a factor directly nurturing peaceful relations, including through the people-to-people contacts resulting from education and youth projects, with a particular focus on the Western Balkans and Enlargement countries 41 . The Commission also plans to use the Agenda to emphasise the cultural dimension of sustainable development and to help implement the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage3 - to which the Western Balkans are fully associated - is a unique opportunity to strengthen cultural ties with partner countries and local cultural sectors. Partnerships born during the Year should continue afterwards as part of EU cultural cooperation and a new European Action Plan for Cultural Heritage. Projects are also ongoing or about to start in conflict-afflicted zones, to protect and rehabilitate damaged cultural heritage, promote job creation and better livelihoods

The Commission and the High Representative will:

·Promote the cultural and creative sectors in the Western Balkans through strengthened support from Creative Europe and envisage using the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance to support culture in the Enlargement countries and the Western Balkans, particularly in implementing the related flagship initiatives of the Action Plan in Support of the Transformation of the Western Balkans

·Envisage launching a third phase of the Eastern Partnership Culture programme, and strengthen civil society through culture in Mediterranean countries

·Launch a Preparatory Action on European Houses of Culture in partner countries

·Strengthen the dialogue on culture with China and launch a new dialogue with Japan

·Implement the 11th European Development Fund Intra-ACP culture programme for African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, complementing actions in all other relevant EU programmes, to support job creation, identity building, vocational training, audiovisual cooperation and the implementation of the UNESCO 2005 Convention in these countries

·Develop strategies for cultural cooperation at regional level, starting with the Western Balkans, the Middle East and North African region and Latin America

·Add cultural heritage protection to the tasks of Common Security and Defence Policy missions, where appropriate, building on ongoing missions and projects

·Support Silk Road Heritage corridors in Central Asia, Afghanistan and Iran

The Commission invites Member States to:

·Cooperate in developing joint activities with the Commission, the High Representative and their services, including the European External Action Service.

5.Cross-cutting actions

While most actions in the New Agenda contribute primarily to one of the three objectives - social, economic and international relations - many aspects are transversal. Two large areas of policy actions at EU level - cultural heritage and digital – will serve all three objectives.

5.1Protecting and valorising cultural heritage

The 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage has made a resounding start, with thousands of activities taking place across Europe. The Commission is contributing directly focussing on ten main themes 42 under four core objectives: Engagement, Sustainability, Protection, and Innovation. These will result in recommendations, principles and toolkits to ensure the positive legacy of the Year, and contribute to the New Agenda.

At the conclusion of the European Year the Commission will:

·Present an Action Plan for Cultural Heritage, and ask Member States to draft similar Plans at national level and follow up the 10 European initiatives through the Council Work Plans for Culture

·Propose to incorporate outcomes of the Year into future EU programmes and Cohesion Policy

·Support the enforcement of the future EU Regulation on the import of cultural goods through an Action Plan on illicit trade in cultural goods and establish a science-policy stakeholder social platform on endangered cultural heritage


The digital revolution enables new and innovative forms of artistic creation; broader, more democratic access to culture and heritage; and new ways to access, consume and monetise cultural content. To reflect these developments, the Commission is preparing a new EU Digital4Culture strategy to build on the copyright, audiovisual and broadcasting proposals under the Digital Single Market strategy and plant the seeds for future actions under the next Multiannual Financial Framework of the Union.

The Commission will:

·Create a network of competence centres across the EU to safeguard knowledge of endangered heritage monuments through large-scale digitisation (2019)

·Create an online directory of European films and launch the first EU Film Week to make European films available to schools across Europe (2019)

·Set up a pan-European network of Digital Creative and Innovation Hubs to support digital transformation (2020)

·Propose next steps for Europeana, Europe's digital platform for cultural heritage (2018)

·Launch pilot mentoring schemes for audiovisual professionals – in particular female ones – to help new talents develop their career paths and abilities (2019)

·Stimulate cross-overs and collaboration between art and technology for sustainable innovation on industrial and societal levels (2018)

6.Implementing the New Agenda

Respecting the principle of subsidiarity, the EU’s role is to provide incentives and guidance to test new ideas and support Member States in advancing a shared agenda. In some areas there is clear scope to do more, through strategic orientations, enhanced working methods and pilot activities.

6.1.Cooperation with Member States

The New Agenda should be implemented through Work Plans and working methods - such as the Open Method of Coordination - endorsed by the Member States.

To increase impact, the Commission proposes also to focus on concrete implementation at national, regional or local levels, through joint projects part-financed by EU instruments, offering peer-learning and technical assistance to Member States, or to regional and local authorities designated by Member States.

The Commission invites Member States to consider the following topics for joint work:

·Participatory governance on heritage, in collaboration with the Council of Europe

·Quality principles for heritage interventions and restoration

·Access to finance and innovation capacity in cultural and creative sectors

·Scaling up culture and heritage projects supported by EU programmes

6.2.Structured dialogue with civil society

The Commission plans to broaden the current structured dialogue 43 , going beyond topics examined under the Open Method of Coordination, making more of online collaboration opportunities, and opening up to relevant organisations outside cultural and creative sectors on a case-by-case basis. It will also propose a more active role for civil society in preparing the biennial European Cultural Forums.

7.Promoting culture through EU policy and programmes

Creative Europe and its successor programme will play a direct role in supporting the New Agenda, and the Commission will improve synergies between projects and policy activities. The Digital4Culture strategy will strengthen coherence between cultural, digital and audiovisual initiatives. The Commission will also support the societal, economic and international objectives of the New Agenda through actions in other policy areas and other – current and future - EU policies and interventions will complement and support the cultural policies of Member States.

8.Next steps

The New European Agenda for Culture is a key part of the Commission’s response to the mandate from the December 2017 European Council. It offers a framework for the next phase of cooperation at EU level to address current societal challenges through the transformative power of culture. A new approach is proposed within a holistic vision, fostering synergies across cultural sectors and with other policy fields. The successful implementation of the New Agenda and the actions therein require a close cooperation with and the involvement of the European Parliament, the Council and the Member States, as well as the culture sector stakeholders.

Policy collaboration under the New Agenda will be supported in 2019 and 2020 by Creative Europe and other EU programmes funding cultural projects, and from 2021 by successor programmes under the EU’s next Multiannual Financial Framework.


    Rome Declaration, March 2017


    European Council conclusions, December 2017





    Bratislava declaration, September 2016


    Eurobarometer 87, Spring 2017


    Eurostat, November 2017


     Articles 173 and 208 are also relevant for creative industries and development cooperation


    2007/C 287/01


    COM(2007) 242


   SWD/2018/167, the Staff Working Document accompanying this Communication, provides an overview of actions under the 2007 Agenda, details of actions proposed in this new Agenda plus other relevant actions ongoing or planned, and details of consultations, statistics and surveys which have informed its development.



   The "capability approach" was developed by Amartya Sen. Its application to culture is more recent.


    Open Method of Coordination (OMC) and Voices of Culture, 2014, 2016 and 2017


   In line with the 2018 Davos Declaration on high-quality Baukultur for Europe  


    Special Eurobarometer 2017  


   Sacco et al., 2011, The Interaction Between Culture, Health and Psychological Well-Being . The 2017-18 OMC on culture for social inclusion is also gathering evidence on health and wellbeing.


    King’s College London report "Towards cultural democracy: Promoting cultural capabilities for everyone"


   3 OMCs on Mobility of artists and residencies, 2010, 2012, 2014

(20) ;  


    Eurostat 2016 (culture statistics: employment, enterprises, participation, trade, expenditure)


    2014 Ernst & Young study "Measuring cultural and creative markets in the EU"


    2016 OMC handbook sets out practices and recommendations.


    OECD Centre for Educational Research and Innovation  




    Culture for Cities and Regions peer-learning project, 2015-17


    Cultural and Creative Cities Monitor , 2017


   2016 ENRD Factsheet on Arts and Culture in Rural Areas


      Natura 2000 case studies linking cultural and natural heritage


    European Creative Hubs network , 2016-18


    European Cluster Panorama 2014.



    Routes4U : Joint Programme of the Commission and Council of Europe on cultural routes in macro-regions




   Including through European Entrepreneurship and Digital Competence Frameworks (EntreComp, DigComp)



(37) ; latest EU report available here .

(38) EU Global Strategy


    Our World, Our Dignity, Our Future, 2017


     Including through the new EU Cultural Diplomacy Platform  




     The 10 European initiatives are key themes for cross-sectoral policy action, including education, illicit trade, quality principles for restoration, sustainable cultural tourism, skills and innovation.

(43) .