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EU culture policy

Under Article 167 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union, the role of the European Union (EU) in the area of culture is to support, coordinate or supplement the actions of the EU Member States. The EU seeks to bring its common cultural heritage to the fore by ‘drawing inspiration from the cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe’, ‘respecting its rich cultural and linguistic diversity’, and ‘ensuring that Europe’s cultural heritage is safeguarded and enhanced’.

While individual Member States are responsible for their own cultural policies, the role of the EU is to help tackle common challenges, ranging from the impact of digital technologies and the need to ensure fair remuneration for artists on digital platforms, to the need to support innovation in the cultural and creative sectors. The EU can also help these sectors recover in an event of a crisis, and foster their resilience to make them more sustainable in the future.

The EU also supports actions to preserve cultural heritage, and promote cooperation and transnational exchanges between cultural institutions in the Member States.

The new funding programme, Creative Europe 2021-2027, is the only EU programme specifically designed to provide support , cross-border cooperation and networking activities for all cultural and creative sectors. These sectors can also benefit from a range of specific opportunities under other EU funding streams including, for instance, Horizon Europe, the Single Market programme, the Recovery and Resilience Facility, or cohesion policy funds.

Other initiatives include:

  • European Capitals of Culture, launched in 1985;
  • EU prizes for cultural sectors, such as the Music Moves Europe Talent Award, the EU Prize for Contemporary Architecture and the EU Prize for Literature;
  • European Heritage Days, an initiative supported jointly with the Council of Europe which gives citizens access to sites that are normally not open to the public.

The EU also works with other international organisations, such as UNESCO, the Council of Europe and the OECD, to tackle the illicit trafficking of cultural goods, promote local development through culture, and improve the participatory governance of cultural heritage.