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EU action for the European Capitals of Culture 2020 to 2033



Decision No 445/2014/EU — EU action for the European Capitals of Culture for the years 2020 to 2033


Decision No 445/2014/EU:

  • renews and updates the European Capitals of Culture (ECoC) scheme for the period 2020-2033;
  • sets out the rules, the procedures and the calendar for the designation of ECoCs during this period.


The ECoC initiative celebrates the rich diversity of cultures in Europe and the common features they share by designating two cities each year to carry this title.


Each year, two European Union (EU) countries are listed in the calendar set out in the decision, and one city is awarded the title from each country. Every three years a third city from an European Free Trade Association (EFTA) / European Economic Area (EEA) country, a candidate country or a potential candidate country may also be designated.

Selection criteria

  • Contribution to the long-term strategy: the long-term cultural, social and economic impact of the ECoC year as well as its sustainability after the year ends.
  • European dimension: how dialogue and greater mutual understanding between European citizens, both artists and the wider public, is promoted, highlighting common aspects of culture, heritage and history, as well as cultural diversity.
  • Cultural and artistic content:
    • artistic vision and strategy;
    • involvement of local artists and organisations in the programme;
    • combining new and innovative experimental expression with the local and traditional.
  • Capacity to deliver: broad political support and commitment to a viable and sustainable infrastructure.
  • Outreach:
    • involvement of local people in the events, in particular minorities and disadvantaged people;
    • links with education;
    • audience development strategy.
  • Management: feasibility of fundraising and budgets, overall governance and adequacy of the delivery structure, contingency planning, marketing and communication.

Selection process

The competition for the title is launched 6 years in advance and the ECoCs are designated 4 years before the event.

The two-stage selection process is carried out by a panel of independent experts, in the countries concerned:

  • a preselection process after which a shortlist is prepared, with recommendations from the panel to the shortlisted cities;
  • a final selection process takes place 9 months later, with the panel recommending one city for the title.

On the basis of the panel’s recommendation, the EU country concerned designates one city to hold the title and the European Commission then has 2 months to publish the list of the cities designated as ECoCs. A similar process is used to designate cities from candidate or potential candidate countries, but in this case the Commission is responsible for the designation.

Once the cities are designated, the panel provides guidance and support while the cities prepare their programmes. During this period, the cities submit regular progress reports and representatives attend regular monitoring meetings.

COVID-19 pandemic impact

In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, amending Decision (EU) 2020/2229 recognises that, for the ECoCs designated for 2020, the action’s objectives, which presuppose mobility, tourism, organisation of events and public participation, were difficult if not impossible to attain. It thus amends the calendar annexed to Decision No 445/2014/EU to:

  • grant Rijeka and Galway the possibility to extend their ECoC 2020 year until 30 April 2021, without changing the year of designation;
  • postpone from 2021 to 2023 the year in which Timisoara and Elefsina are entitled to host the ECoC event;
  • postpone from 2021 to 2022 the year in which a candidate or potential candidate country may apply to host the ECoC event.

Designated ECoCs from 2022 to 2025

The following cities have been designated EcoCs from 2022 to 2025.

  • 2022: Kaunas (Lithuania), Esch (Luxembourg) and Novi Sad (Serbia, candidate country).
  • 2023: Veszprém (Hungary), Timișoara (Romania) and Elefsina (Greece).
  • 2024: Tartu (Estonia), Bodø (Norway, EFTA/EEA country) and Bad Ischl (Austria).
  • 2025: Chemnitz (Germany) and Nova Gorica (Slovenia, recommended).


Decision No 445/2014/EU repeals Decision No 1622/2006/EC.


  • Decision No 445/2014/EU has applied since 4 May 2014.
  • Amending Decision (EU) 2020/2229 has applied since 1 January 2021.


Since the mid 1980s, when the ECoC initiative was first launched, there has been increased recognition of the role of culture in cities as a catalyst for creativity, social and territorial cohesion, employment and growth.


Decision No 445/2014/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014 establishing a Union action for the European Capitals of Culture for the years 2020 to 2033 and repealing Decision No 1622/2006/EC (OJ L 132, 3.5.2014, pp. 1-12)

Successive amendments to Decision No 445/2014/EU have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.


Decision (EU) 2020/2229 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 December 2020 amending Decision No 445/2014/EU establishing a Union action for the European Capitals of Culture for the years 2020 to 2033 (OJ L 437, 28.12.2020, pp. 116-119)

Council Decision (EU) 2015/809 of 19 May 2015 designating the European Capitals of Culture for the year 2019 in Bulgaria and Italy (OJ L 128, 23.5.2015, p. 20)

Council Decision 2014/352/EU of 21 May 2014 designating the European Capital of Culture for the year 2018 in the Netherlands (OJ L 175, 14.6.2014, p. 26)

Council Implementing Decision 2014/353/EU of 21 May 2014 on the practical and procedural arrangements for the appointment by the Council of three experts of the selection and monitoring panel for the European Capitals of Culture action 2020-33 (OJ L 175, 14.6.2014, pp. 27-30)

last update 02.02.2021