EUR-Lex Access to European Union law

Back to EUR-Lex homepage

This document is an excerpt from the EUR-Lex website

European agenda for culture in a globalising world

The Commission proposes a new European agenda for culture, which attempts to respond to the challenges of globalisation. This new strategy aims to intensify cultural cooperation in the European Union (EU), focusing on a series of concrete proposals to achieve a set of common objectives.


Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 10 May 2007 on a European agenda for culture in a globalizing world [COM(2007) 242 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


The cultural sector plays a key role in terms of its numerous social, economic and political implications. Consequently, culture has a fundamental part in the process of European integration.

On the basis of these considerations, and in light of the results of an online consultation of stakeholders in the cultural sector, the Commission proposes a new European agenda for culture that focuses on a limited number of objectives. To work towards these objectives, the Commission also suggests new mechanisms for cooperation with and among European Union (EU) countries, other levels of governance and civil society.

The objectives of the new European agenda for culture are built around three priorities:

Cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue

Openness and exchanges between different cultures should be promoted. Accordingly, the new agenda for culture seeks to encourage:

  • mobility of artists and workers in the cultural sector and the circulation of all forms of artistic expression;
  • strengthening intercultural competences and intercultural dialogue, by developing capacities included among the key competences for lifelong learning, such as cultural awareness and expression, and communication in foreign languages.

Stimulating creativity within the framework of the Lisbon Strategy for growth and jobs

Cultural industries contribute to the dynamism of the European economy and to EU competitiveness. By way of example, the cultural sector employs nearly five million people in the EU. In this respect, the Commission proposes the following objectives:

  • promoting creativity in education and incorporating this dimension into the lifelong learning measures;
  • strengthening the organisational capacities of the cultural sector, by focusing on entrepreneurship and the training of the cultural sector in managerial competences (innovative sources of financing, European dimension of commercial activities, etc.);
  • developing effective partnerships between the cultural sector and other sectors (ICTs, research, tourism, social partners, etc.) to reinforce the impact of investments in culture.

Culture as a vital element in international relations

In line with the Unesco Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, ratified by the EU and most of its countries, the new agenda for culture proposes to reinforce the cultural dimension as a vital element of EU external relations. This priority is accompanied by a number of measures to:

  • pursue political dialogue in the field of culture and promote cultural exchanges between the EU and non-EU countries;
  • promote access to global markets for cultural goods and services from developing countries through agreements that grant preferential treatment or trade-related assistance measures;
  • build on external relations to set up financial and technical support (preservation of cultural heritage, promotion of cultural activities across the world);
  • ensure that all projects funded by the EU take account of local culture;
  • step up EU involvement in the work of international organisations active in the field of culture and in the United Nations ‘Alliance of Civilisations’ process.

Working methods

The Commission seeks to establish a structured dialogue with the cultural sector to achieve these objectives. This dialogue would include all stakeholders, from artists and creators to cultural industries. To this end, the Commission recommends:

  • identifying all actors in the cultural sector;
  • organising a "Cultural Forum" that brings together all these stakeholders;
  • representing at European level the views of stakeholders in this sector;
  • developing social dialogue for social partners in the cultural sector;
  • bringing a cultural dimension to European public debates by using, in particular, the permanent representations of the Commission.

This new strategy for culture and all the measures proposed depend on closer cooperation between the EU and its countries through the open method of coordination (OMC) mechanism. It also aims to develop a structured dialogue with the cultural sector.

The new European agenda for culture is complemented by other actions related to the cultural sector, such as the 2008 European Year of Intercultural Dialogue.


The cultural sector has already been the subject of several European level actions to promote culture, such as the “Culture”, “Europe for Citizens”, and MEDIA programmes.


Commission Report to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 19 July 2010 on the implementation of the European Agenda for Culture [COM(2010) 390 final – Not published in the Official Journal]. This report presents the progress made on the objectives of the European agenda for culture both at the European and national level, as well as the first experiences with the new working methods.

The promotion of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue has involved a variety of issues and actions, such as:

  • the 2008 European Year of Intercultural Dialogue, which initiated new national policies and structures and a political agreement at EU level;
  • the 2008 Commission communication on multilingualism, which aims at transferring linguistic diversity into an asset;
  • access to culture via digitisation, to which end Europeana was launched in 2008, and through a proposed European Heritage Label.

To promote culture as a catalyst for creativity, several initiatives have been taken, such as:

  • the 2009 European Year of Creativity and Innovation, which examined how culture may generate economic and social innovation;
  • studies on the impact of culture on creativity, on entrepreneurship in cultural and creative industries and on the contribution of culture to local and regional development;
  • the 2010 Green Paper on the unlocking of the potential of cultural and creative industries.

The promotion of culture in EU external relations has received increased impetus since the adoption of the agenda and has included:

  • a new Euromed strategy on culture, which is currently under preparation;
  • important efforts to rehabilitate cultural heritage in EU candidate countries, including through the Instrument of Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) civil society facility;
  • a Eastern Partnership Culture Programme, which is to be launched in 2010;
  • a process to strengthen the role of culture in development policies, which was launched in 2009;
  • the MEDIA Mundus programme (2011-13), which will succeed the preparatory action MEDIA International.

The first experiences of the OMC indicate that, in general, it is an effective tool for cooperating in the cultural field. However, it has not been used for long enough to draw any substantial conclusions. For the future, cooperation will have to be reinforced, with adapted working methods. The structured dialogue in the cultural sector is taking place through thematic platforms of European associations and the European Culture Forum. The thematic platforms have been especially beneficial for intensifying dialogue within the sector. Nevertheless, further efforts need to be made to achieve more focused dialogue with civil society in future.

See also

Last updated: 14.10.2010