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EU to put culture at the heart of international relations

May 24, 2017

On 23 May the Council adopted conclusions on the approach to culture in the European Union's external relations. The conclusions follow a joint communication from the High Representative and the European Commission. They provide guidance on the EU's strategic approach to international cultural relations.

According to the conclusions, an overall approach should be bottom-up and should respect the independence of the cultural sector, as international cultural relations can only develop by encouraging cultural diversity within the EU.

In order to take forward this work, the Council will assist in drawing up a comprehensive strategic approach to the EU’s international cultural relations. This work will be supported by the Commission and European External Action Service, drawing on the existing cultural diplomacy platform which will promote the EU's cultural engagement with third countries.

As mentioned in European Commission’s strategy paper, inter-cultural dialogue with Partner countries will be promoted through cooperation between cultural operators, peace-building cultural activities and exchanges between young people, researchers and scientists, as well as through cooperation on the protection of cultural heritage.

The EU already supports research and innovation in the field of cultural heritage, notably in the framework of the Horizon 2020 programme. The Commission will further contribute to international efforts for the protection of cultural heritage sites and will adopt a regulation in July on the importing of cultural goods into the EU.

Cultural heritage will be at the core of the EU’s cultural strategy next year, when it will be celebrating the European Year of Cultural Heritage. A series of initiatives are being prepared within this framework.

The "EaP Culture Programme Phase II" is currently supporting the cultural and creative sectors' contribution to sustainable humanitarian, social and economic development in the Eastern Partnership region. Under this programme, the "Community-Led Urban Strategies in Historic Towns" project stimulates social and economic development by enhancing cultural heritage in 9 historic towns in Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

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