REPORT on the role of intercultural dialogue, cultural diversity and education in promoting EU fundamental values

21.12.2015 - (2015/2139(INI))

Committee on Culture and Education
Rapporteur: Julie Ward

Procedure : 2015/2139(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected :  


on the role of intercultural dialogue, cultural diversity and education in promoting EU fundamental values


The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Articles 2, 21 and 27(3) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU),

–  having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), in particular Articles 165 and 167 thereof, and Article 17 in particular thereof, according to which the Union must respect the status under national law of churches and religious associations or communities as well as philosophical and non-confessional organisations and must recognise their identity and their specific contribution and must maintain an open, transparent and regular dialogue with them,

–  having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union[1], and in particular Articles 10, 11 and 22 thereof, and the preamble thereto,

–  having regard to the European Convention on Human Rights, and in particular Article 2 of Protocol No 1 thereto,

–  having regard to the United Nations resolution of 20 December 2010 entitled ‘Culture and Development’,

–  having regard to the United Nations Millennium Declaration (2000), and in particular the articles under the heading ‘Human rights, democracy and good governance’,

–  having regard to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (1979),

–  having regard to the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (UNESCO Convention),

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), in particular Article 16 thereof and the UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief,

–  having regard to UN General Assembly resolution 67/179 of 20 December 2012 and UN Human Rights Council resolution 22/20 of 22 March 2013,

–  having regard to its recommendation to the Council of 13 June 2013 on the draft EU Guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief[2] and to the EU Guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief, adopted by the Foreign Affairs Council on 24 June 2013,

–  having regard to Decision No 1983/2006/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 concerning the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue (2008)[3],

–  having regard to the Council Conclusions of 20 November 2008 on the promotion of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue in the external relations of the Union and its Member States (2008/C 320/04)[4],

–  having regard to the EU Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy (11855/2012), adopted by the Foreign Affairs Council on 25 June 2012,

–  having regard to the Council of Europe White Paper of 7 May 2008 on Intercultural Dialogue entitled ‘Living Together As Equals in Dignity’,

–  having regard to the European agenda for culture in a globalising world (COM(2007)0242), which aims to promote awareness of cultural diversity and EU values, dialogue with civil society and exchanges of good practices,

–  having regard to the outcomes and follow-up actions of the Preparatory Action for Culture in EU External Relations, 2014,

–  having regard to the Protocol on Cultural Cooperation annexed to the model Free Trade Agreement[5],

–  having regard to the Paris Declaration on promoting citizenship and the common values of freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination through education, adopted at the informal meeting of EU education ministers on 17 March 2015 in Paris (8496/15),

–  having regard to the final joint recommendations of the Trio Presidency from the 2015 EU Youth Conference in Luxembourg, which took into account the Structured Dialogue consultation aimed at empowering young people for political participation in democratic life in Europe and called on Parliament to promote values-based education and active citizenship education,

–  having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Culture and Education (A8-0373/2015),

A.  whereas Europe represents an immense richness of cultural, social, linguistic and religious diversity; whereas, in this context, the shared values that hold together our societies, such as freedom, social justice, equality and non-discrimination, democracy, human rights, the rule of law, tolerance and solidarity, are crucial for Europe’s future;

B.  whereas not being a legal concept, intercultural dialogue is not regulated by national, EU or international law, but is built on international frameworks aimed at protecting human rights and cultural diversity;

C.  whereas intercultural dialogue was tentatively defined in different studies and conclusions during the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue (2008) as a process that comprises an open and respectful exchange or interaction between individuals, groups and organisations with different cultural backgrounds or world views; whereas among its aims are: to develop a deeper understanding of diverse perspectives and practices; to increase participation and the freedom and ability to make choices; to foster equality; and to enhance creative processes;

D.  whereas it is important that the necessary means are provided, especially financially, to prioritise the funding of programmes designed to foster intercultural dialogue and dialogue between citizens in order to strengthen mutual respect in a context of strong cultural diversity and to address the complex realities of our societies and the coexistence of different cultural identities and beliefs, as well as to highlight the contribution of different cultures to European societies and heritage, and to effectively manage conflicts;

E.  whereas achieving this objective is not only a task for public authorities and decision makers, but is a shared responsibility of society as a whole, including a broad range of stakeholders such as families, media, educators, businesses, community and faith leaders; whereas in addition to political actors, it is important to emphasise the role of all other stakeholders involved in intercultural dialogue;

F.  whereas specific articles of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union are of particular importance to intercultural dialogue by promoting equality, non-discrimination, cultural, religious and linguistic diversity, freedom of expression and movement, citizenship rights to economic and political participation;

G.  whereas a meaningful intercultural dialogue requires solid knowledge of one’s own and other cultures;

H.  whereas, in light of the European Year of Development 2015, the review of the UN Millennium Development Goals and the outcome of the UN Sustainable Development Summit 2015, the role of culture is instrumental in achieving sustainable development and eradicating poverty in the world; calls furthermore for more explicit integration of culture in the UN post-2015 agenda for sustainable development;

I.  whereas Europe and the world face numerous challenges linked to globalisation, migration, religious and inter-cultural conflicts and rise of radicalism;

J.  whereas in the context of intercultural dialogue, the application of both universal human rights (as individual rights) and cultural rights (recognising specific and multiple cultural identities) are essential;

K.  whereas the development of learning mobility for students and teachers and any other form of international exchange can lead to a better world, in which people move freely and enjoy open intercultural dialogue;

1.  Argues that a European Union approach should take stock and resume the excellent work initiated during the 2008 European Year of Intercultural Dialogue, step up the exchange of good practices and promote a new structured dialogue with all stakeholders in intercultural and interfaith issues in the light of all recent and dramatic events: European and national politicians, local and regional authorities, churches, religious associations and communities and philosophical and non-confessional organisations, civil society organisations and platforms, sport, culture and education workers, national and European youth councils, academics and the media;

2.  Encourages all stakeholders to establish an up-to-date, clear, policy-related definition of intercultural dialogue, to implement or harmonise methods, quality criteria and indicators with a view to evaluating the impact of intercultural dialogue programmes and projects, and to research methodologies for intercultural comparisons;

3.  Advocates that fostering an intercultural, interfaith and value-based approach in the educational field should be encouraged in order to address and promote mutual respect, integrity, ethical principles cultural diversity, social inclusion and cohesion, including through exchange and mobility programmes for all;

4.  Advocates that cultural diversity should also be addressed in the audio visual and cultural industries; encourages these industries to find creative ways to push for an agreement on national, regional and local action plans for the implementation of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions;

5.  Calls for interfaith dialogue to be taken into account as a component of intercultural dialogue, a precondition for peace, and an essential tool of conflict management, focusing on the dignity of the individual and on the need to uphold human rights around the world, with particular reference to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and religious minorities’ right to protection;

6.  Stresses that a genuine intercultural and interfaith dialogue encourages positive and cooperative interactions, promotes understanding and respect between cultures, increases diversity and respect for democracy, liberty, human rights as well as tolerance for universal and culture specific values;

7.  Highlights the importance of the timely integration and education of segregated communities, which behave in ways that run counter to European fundamental values;

8.  Advocates that the EU, acting as global peace actor, should include culture and cultural exchanges and enhance education in EU external relations and development policy, as vehicles for strengthening common core values such as the values of respect and mutual understanding, providing effective tools for a meaningful and sustainable approach to conflict resolution, peace-making and crisis prevention;

9.  Considers that, in line with Article 167(4) TFEU, cultural dialogue and diversity should be integrated in a transversal way in all EU policy areas that impact on shared EU fundamental values and rights such as youth policy, education policy, mobility, employment and social affairs, external policies, women’s rights and gender equality, trade and regional development;

10.  Highlights the need to train and prepare future generations to be audacious problem solvers and address effectively and innovatively the challenges European citizens will face in the future by giving them access to a genuine education in citizenship and ensuring that they have the motivation and commitment to acquire competences and skills such as entrepreneurship, leadership and capacity building;

11.  Recognises that intercultural dialogue is a tool for inclusive democratic participation and empowerment of citizens, in particular in relation to common goods and public spaces; argues that as such, intercultural dialogue may significantly contribute to the improvement of democracy and the development of greater and deeper inclusivity and sense of belonging;

12.  Believes that increasing public investment in inclusive, quality and accessible formal, non-formal and informal education is the first step to providing equal access and opportunities for all; recalls the need to ensure cultural and social diversity in classrooms and learning settings including among educators, to reduce early school leaving and to foster the education of disadvantaged children in order to promote equity and foster social cohesion among future generations;

13.  Stresses that formal, non-formal and informal education and access to lifelong learning not only provide knowledge, skills and competences, but should also help learners to develop ethical and civic values and become active, responsible, open-minded members of society; stresses, in this regard, the need for civic education to start from an early age and recognises the importance of cooperation among all education stakeholders; advocates building on children and young people’s sense of initiative and engagement in order to strengthen social ties as well as generate a sense of belonging and develop ethical codes to challenge discrimination;

14.  Highlights the important role of non-formal and informal learning and recognises the benefit of building synergies and partnerships between all levels and forms of learning, including across generations; highlights as well the importance of participation in sports and volunteering activities in stimulating the development of civic, social and intercultural competences and contributing to the social inclusion of disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, and of citizens more generally, particularly children, by teaching the spirit of teamwork and respect for diversity, thereby combating social phenomena such as violence, radicalism, racism and xenophobia and rebuilding the foundations for a constructive and peaceful dialogue among communities; recalls in this regard the crucial role of EU programmes in the field of culture, media, education, youth and sport as tools to tackle intolerance and prejudices and foster a sense of common belonging and respect for cultural diversity;

15.  Stresses the importance of building strong bridges between culture and education in order to develop competences and transferable skills, increase high-level and secure jobs in line with the ILO Decent Work Agenda and achieve a higher level of social inclusion and active citizenship; considers these among the main goals in the implementation of EU fundamental values as enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty of the European Union (TEU) and in the Charter of the Fundamental Rights of the European Union; recalls the value of CONNECT, the only EU programme promoting culture and education projects and encourages the Commission to consider a new pilot action line to test the present feasibility of such a scheme;

16.  Supports the mobility of young people and teachers as well as all forms of cooperation between schools and universities, for example common educational platforms, joint study programmes and joint projects, as a means to foster understanding and appreciation of cultural diversity and to provide young people with social, civic and intercultural competences and skills; is of the opinion, in this regard, that exposing children to other cultures at a very young age helps them obtain basic life skills and competences necessary for their personal development, future employment and active EU citizenship; stresses that including targeted educational school visits in different Member States and transnational mobility of young children is also a tool for laying down the foundations of European cultures, arts, languages and values; encourages mobility specifically for teachers from primary and secondary levels in order to share experiences and develop their own tools to face and answer evolving societal challenges; emphasises the role and importance of the Erasmus+ programme which fosters a European awareness among young people and creates a sense of common belonging and a culture of intercultural dialogue by facilitating their mobility, as well as increasing their employability; encourages in particular further measures to facilitate the access and integration of disadvantaged groups and people with special needs in Erasmus+ mobility actions;

17.  Encourages the Member States to develop quality training programmes promoting diversity, empowering educators, youth and community workers, as well as counselling services at schools and in non-formal and informal settings, for both children and their parents, to meet the educational and training needs of children from different cultural and social backgrounds and to address all forms of discrimination and racism, including bullying and cyber-bullying; notes that educational resources should be re-examined to foster multi-perspective and multi-language learning and that the multi-lingual and intercultural experiences and skills of teachers must be valorised and promoted systematically in this context;

18.  Underlines the importance of investing in lifelong learning programmes for teachers, equipping them with the necessary pedagogical competencies on the topics of migration, acculturation and social psychology as well as enabling them to utilise diversity as a rich source for learning in classrooms;

19.  Notes the essential role of teachers in strengthening – in cooperation with families – social ties, generating a sense of belonging and helping young people to develop ethical and civic values;

20.  Reiterates the need to create rights-based and gender-sensitive learning environments for students to learn about and stand up for human rights, including women’s and children’s rights, fundamental values and civic participation, rights and responsibilities of citizens, democracy and the rule of law, being confident in their identity, knowing their voice is heard and feeling valued by their communities; encourages the Member States and educational settings to strengthen students’ active participation in the governance of their learning structures;

21.  Highlights the role of new information and communication technologies and the internet as instruments for promoting intercultural dialogue; promotes the use of social media in order to strengthen the awareness of common fundamental values and principles of the European Union among citizens and underlines the importance of media literacy at all levels of education as a tool for promoting intercultural dialogue among young people; also encourages the EEAS and all the heads of EU representations to make the most of new digital tools in their work;

22.  Recognises the need to provide sustainable and structural support to NGOs, human rights organisations, youth organisations and training institutions to challenge extremism through social cohesion and inclusion, active citizenship and empowerment and participation of youth, in particular small-scale local initiatives and those working at grassroots level;

23.  Recognises the key role NGOs, cultural networks and platforms, as well as the abovementioned institutions play and should continue to play where formal intercultural dialogue structures, policies or programmes are less developed; encourages further dialogue between the EU and large cities, regions and local authorities, with a view to analysing more effectively (i) the connection between the urban models, which are home to citizens, and the success or failure of school systems, (ii) the benefit of formal and informal education for all children and families, and (iii) the coordination of education structures to promote an efficient intercultural dialogue;

24.  Calls for renewed attention to be paid to the promotion of a solidarity-based and intercultural society, especially among young people, through the implementation of the Europe for Citizens programme, using adequate funding to enable the fulfilment of its objectives of building a more coherent and inclusive society and fostering an active citizenship open to the world, respectful of cultural diversity and based on the common values of the EU;

25.  Encourages inclusive artistic and sports educational and training activities for all ages, as well as volunteering, in order to strengthen socialisation processes and the participation of minorities, disadvantaged groups, marginalised communities, migrants and refugees, in cultural and social life including in leadership and decision making;

26.  Recognises the importance of formal, non-formal and informal learning, as well as volunteering, to promote self-development focusing on cognitive and non-cognitive skills and competences, critical thinking, capacity to deal with different opinions, media literacy, anti-discrimination and intercultural skills and competences and language learning as well as social and civic competences including learning about cultural heritage as a tool to address contemporary challenges through sensitive interpretation;

27.  Affirms the need, when dealing with the issue of intercultural dialogue and education, to keep a gender perspective and to take into account the needs of people suffering multiple forms of discrimination, including people with disabilities, people identifying as LGBTI and people from marginalised communities;

28.  Encourages the EU institutions to broaden their analysis of all forms of radicalisation and initiate new reflections on the nature and the processes of political extremism and violence, starting from the premise that radicalisation is a dynamic, relational process and an unforeseen and unpredictable consequence of a series of transformations; welcomes therefore the Paris Declaration of 17 March 2015 on promoting citizenship and the common values of freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination through education as an effort to foster active dialogue between cultures as well as global solidarity and mutual respect, focusing attention on the importance of civic education, including raising awareness of the unique role of cultural tools to foster mutual respect among pupils and students;

29.  Recalls the legitimacy and accountability that governments and European institutions have, with the support of intelligence services and law enforcement agencies, to address criminal activities; notes nevertheless that, in compliance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU, punitive measures must always respect fundamental rights such as the right to data protection, freedom of expression, presumption of innocence and effective remedy;

30.  Believes that the EU, when promoting fundamental values, intercultural dialogue and cultural diversity at international level, should strongly condemn any inhuman and degrading treatment and all human rights violations so as to concretely promote the full respect for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

31.  Calls on the Member States to ensure the full implementation of binding European and international anti-discrimination standards in national law;

32.  Calls on the Member States to involve marginalised communities, migrants, refugees and host communities as well as faith and secular communities in respectful and empowering inclusion processes, ensuring their participation in civic and cultural life in a human, respectful and sustainable way in all situations, in particular in emergency situations;

33.  Welcomes the Preparatory Action on Culture in EU External Relations and its role in enhancing the role of culture as a strategic factor for human, social and economic development, contributing therefore to external policy objectives, and calls on the European External Action Service and EU representations all over the world to also include culture as an integral element of external EU policy, to appoint a cultural attaché in each EU representation in third partner countries and to provide EEAS staff with training on the cultural dimension of external policy; calls on the Commission to mainstream cultural diplomacy and intercultural dialogue in all EU external relations instruments and in the EU development agenda; calls furthermore on the EU and the Member States to strengthen cooperation with other European and international organisations such as the United Nations and its related agencies, in particular UNESCO, UNICEF and UNHCR, and to require an effective and stronger EU representation within their bodies; calls moreover for cooperation with national cultural institutes with the aim of improving implementation of existing instruments, such as cultural network-based clusters of European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC), and the design of new tools to tackle common challenges in a globalised world;

34.  Considers that culture should become an essential part of political dialogue with third countries and recalls the need to systematically integrate culture into development projects and programmes; highlights therefore the need to remove obstacles to mobility for artists, educators, academics and culture professionals, by harmonising and simplifying visa procedures to encourage cultural cooperation with all parts of the world;

35.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to develop strategies which recognise intercultural dialogue as a process of interactive communication within and between cultures, to ensure mutual respect and equal opportunities, to deliver and implement effective solutions to tackle the economic and social inequalities and causes of exclusion as well as all forms of discrimination and to develop a deeper understanding of diverse perspectives and practices; recalls the key role played by the media, including social media, both as a potential platform for extreme discourses and as a vehicle for countering xenophobic narratives, breaking down stereotypes and prejudices and promoting tolerance;

36.  Recalls that cultural heritage represents the diversity of cultural expressions and it should therefore be protected and promoted through the adoption of harmonised legislation and international agreements, in close cooperation with UNESCO;

37.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to prevent extremism, such as xenophobia, racism and all forms of discrimination and marginalisation through community cohesion measures that are able to successfully challenge economic and social inequalities, involving a broad range of actors such as urban planners, social workers, community, churches and religious associations, educators, family support organisations and health professionals, with the objectives of countering extremism, ensuring social inclusion as well as formal and substantial equality, promoting diversity and fostering community cohesion;

38.  Recommends that the EU cooperate in making learning and schooling accessible for refugee children by continuing to support programs on access to education in humanitarian crises and to ensure the integration of migrant students in Europe;

39.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to explore, design and implement interactive youth and child-focused methods of participation at all levels of government;

40.  Underlines the family role in the preservation of cultural identity, traditions, ethics and the value systems of society, and stresses that the introduction of children to the culture, values and norms of their society begins in the family;

41.  Calls on the Commission and the Council to adopt intercultural dialogue as a strong and committed political objective of the EU and therefore guarantee EU support through various policy measures, initiatives and funds, including intercultural dialogue with third countries, especially fragile states;

42.  Encourages the Commission and the Member States to further prioritise initiatives directed towards supporting cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue and education, and to fully exploit EU financial instruments, programmes and initiatives, such as the Erasmus+, Europe for Citizens, Creative Europe and Horizon 2020 programmes, EU neighbourhood policy and external relations instruments, and bodies such as the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, for the promotion and support of intercultural dialogue and cultural diversity within Europe and with its neighbour countries and other world regions;

43.  Emphasises the rich contribution of European artistic production to cultural diversity and the role it thus plays in spreading the values of the EU and exhorting European citizens to develop critical thinking;

44.  Recalls the role played by the LUX Prize in rewarding European films celebrating European identity or European cultural diversity;

45.  Encourages the Commission and the Member States to assess the impact of the measures taken in the context of this report and calls on the Commission to submit a monitoring report and review;


o    o

46.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights and to the Member States.


The European Union is at a particular point in history where notions of identity and belonging are being contested, reconfigured and defended, with strong feelings from a diversity of voices and divergent political perspectives.

The Paris Declaration of 17 March 2015 is a powerful statement, providing a welcome imperative for Member States to act in order to strengthen the role of intercultural dialogue in education and learning environments.

This is required in order to adequately address current concerns as well as to lay down the foundations for building the strong, confident, resilient and cohesive communities of the future.

EU Education Ministers were clear in their joint affirmation of the value of pluralistic, non-discriminatory, tolerant and just societies, where solidarity and equality between women and men is wholeheartedly embraced in the pursuit of the EU fundamental values of human dignity, liberty, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights (as enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union, and in the Charter of Fundamental Rights the European Union).

The shaping of Member States’ education policies to this end was therefore agreed in Paris as a necessity, with ‘Citizenship’ as the main vehicle for achieving success in this collective endeavour.

This report is an attempt to build on the Education Ministers’ common agreement that combined efforts are needed in order to prevent and tackle marginalisation, intolerance, racism and radicalisation, and also to preserve a framework of equal opportunities for all.

The report identifies opportunities along with challenges and makes concrete recommendations for action at all governmental levels as well as at EU level, including the increased use of culture in external actions and in the EU development agenda, recognising the unique role that culture can play in peace-building, conflict resolution and crisis prevention.

Intercultural dialogue as a positive narrative

Although the topic and goals of this report reflect an anxiety resulting from the violent and dramatic events that Europe has faced in the past months and years, and translate a collective will to prevent radicalisation and extremism, it adopts a broader approach that encourages new reflections on the nature and the processes of political violence, starting from the premise that radicalisation is a dynamic, relational process and an unforeseen and unpredictable consequence of a series of disruptive events.

At the core of this discourse lies the possibility for increased self-knowledge which is the first step in beginning to understand the “other”. Accepted intercultural theory suggests that we learn most about ourselves when we see ourselves reflected in others. Knowing oneself is important for self-confidence and the development of social skills, all of which can help the process of integration as well as prepare one for active citizenship, provided support mechanisms are in place.

Intercultural dialogue is a two-way process and both parties benefit through being able to stand in one another’s shoes. Some excellent best practice examples of cultural exchange already exist through EU funded programmes such as Erasmus+ and other initiatives run by NGOs, as well as Town Twinning funded by the Europe for Citizens programme which has a long history of inter-generational, intercultural dialogue.

It must be noted that culture is not fixed but rather a fluid idea encompassing multiple shared reference points, including language, faith, dress codes, food and drink, and traditional arts and crafts. It should also be acknowledged that migratory peoples bring with them skills, knowledge, ideas, new approaches, entrepreneurship and cultural practices that enrich the social fabric of the communities they become part of, and that migration is part of our cultural heritage.

The root of violent extremism can sometimes be found in the cultural, social and economic exclusion of people from their societies. The divisive and derogatory language sometimes used about marginalised communities and minorities, as well as the discrimination that many people experience - especially young people - can cause alienation which may lead to segregation of certain groups in society. Focusing on young people and minorities in the sole context of radicalisation might also lead to increasing stigmatisation. Meanwhile, there is a growing need to promote inclusion, participation and active citizenship, not just in respect of minority youth but also amongst the dominant cultural groups where exacerbating factors have also removed them from community support structures that could best support them through challenging times.

To take a positive approach, it is important to understand that differentiated narratives resulting from intercultural dialogue and a celebration of cultural diversity can create empathy, empower marginalised communities and foster more active citizenship, given that such a dialogue also addresses stereotypes, prejudices and discrimination by the majority.

Simultaneously, dealing with the concept of intercultural dialogue in legislation is a challenge as it is multi-, inter- and transdisciplinary by nature and affects our societies at both European and national levels; and therefore, not being a legal concept, intercultural dialogue is not regulated by national, European or international law, but relies instead on international frameworks aimed at the respect of human rights and cultural diversity.

The report therefore takes a positive and pro-active position, seeing opportunity in the situations that present themselves, rather than over-reacting to a culture of fearfulness. The report focuses on promoting the need to reinvigorate and reinforce healthy dialogue between all kinds of communities, leading to a better understanding and acceptance of common fundamental values, thereby laying the foundations for more inclusive and pluralistic societies.

Inclusive learning and active citizenship

Increasing cultural pluralism requires active participation in democratic processes at all levels, not only in respect of citizen’s participation in institutional structures, but also through the development of dialogue and consensus between groups with different interests, origins and backgrounds.

Therefore we need to prepare a generation of young people with the motivation, commitments and skills, such as entrepreneurship, leadership, volunteering and capacity building, to be audacious problem-solvers and develop their critical and creative thinking capacity to deal with different opinions, acquire media literacy and develop intercultural skills, as well as social and civic competences including learning about cultural heritage.

Differentiated approaches to teaching and learning are required in order to respond to specific community needs from early years practice to lifelong learning. To this end high quality training programmes in citizenship should be developed for educators from both statutory and voluntary sectors.

In addressing the past it is important to ensure heritage and history is not used as a divisive tool but as an opportunity to address contemporary challenges through sensitive interpretation and skilful, targeted education programmes.

Education and intercultural learning in their diverse settings are crucial to ensure sustainable progress in the field of active citizenship. Learning is a dynamic process which can take place in a multitude of settings, leading to the acquisition of additional life-skills, transferable knowledge and intercultural competences. Therefore, the report tackles the issue of education not just targeting children and young people but also ensuring the involvement of all generations, in particular through lifelong learning opportunities.

The diversity of learning structures and educators, including family, the community or the work environment, as well as the possibility to challenge the traditional relationships between teachers and learners, must be embraced in order to achieve the goal of inclusive quality learning. It is also important to highlight the synergies between formal, non-formal and learning and the benefits of working at all levels in a coherent way, for example through inter-generational learning, peer-to-peer learning, family learning, work-based learning, on-line learning, museum learning, learning through the arts and sports, and learning outdoors.

Non-formal and informal settings, widely used in the context of community education and work with groups underrepresented in mainstream academic and adult education provision, provide opportunities for active promotion of common values of freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination, for learning about Human Rights, including women’s and children rights. Learners’ participation in negotiations and decision making within the learning structures themselves help to strengthen democratic values and empower learning communities to become active citizens.

The report puts a particular emphasis on the role of volunteering, sport and arts in strengthening socialisation processes and encouraging the participation of individuals, including minorities, marginalised communities, migrants and refugees, in better accessing cultural and social life. Learning for leadership and developing skills for decision-making are crucial for building resilient, cohesive and sustainable societies. The role of intercultural dialogue in citizenship education must therefore be part of a long term strategy to develop successful, functional and welcoming communities, proud of their heritage and united in diversity.

Conclusion: Towards a coherent and integrated approach

Addressing the challenges tackled in this report requires that cultural dialogue and diversity is integrated in a transversal way to all policy areas such as children and youth policy, education, mobility, employment and social affairs, security and internal affairs as well as women’s rights and gender equality, and regional development. A greater and more coherent cooperation between different policy structures and subject areas is needed, not just at EU level but also at national and local level.

A particular plea is made in the report for including intercultural dialogue in EU external relations, including in the EU development agenda. Culture plays a key role in fostering democratisation, peace-building and respect of human rights, which is particularly relevant to the topic of this report. The development of a dynamic role for culture, including the promotion and protection of cultural diversity, on the international stage as a “soft power”, can benefit the EU and its Member States in their relations with the wider world.

Emphasis must be placed on the role of mobility and exchanges in promoting intercultural dialogue. The challenge in this area is to fully exploit the existing instruments and also provide opportunities that would allow a broader reach of participants to include individuals suffering from marginalisation, geographic or social isolation and other forms of discrimination.

An integrated approach to tackle the role of intercultural dialogue, cultural diversity and education in promoting EU fundamental values also requires a greater cooperation among international institutions, notably between the EU, its Member States and international organisations such as the United Nations and its related agencies, in particular UNESCO, UNICEF and UNHCR, towards a better implementation of existing instruments and the design of new tools to tackle common challenges in a globalised world.

Beyond the action of policy and law makers, the report recalls that more consideration must be given to the power of civil society to pursue intercultural exchange, people to people dialogue, peace-building initiatives and citizenship engagement, in order to put the empowerment of communities at the core of strengthening the social cohesion process. To this end, structural and sustainable support must be provided to NGOs, children and youth organisations and training institutions, as well as all relevant organisations and small scale initiatives working at the grass roots level.


Date adopted





Result of final vote







Members present for the final vote

Isabella Adinolfi, Dominique Bilde, Andrea Bocskor, Louise Bours, Nikolaos Chountis, Silvia Costa, Damian Drăghici, María Teresa Giménez Barbat, Petra Kammerevert, Rikke Karlsson, Andrew Lewer, Svetoslav Hristov Malinov, Luigi Morgano, Momchil Nekov, Michaela Šojdrová, Sabine Verheyen, Julie Ward, Bogdan Brunon Wenta, Milan Zver, Krystyna Łybacka

Substitutes present for the final vote

Norbert Erdős, Santiago Fisas Ayxelà, György Hölvényi, Zdzisław Krasnodębski, Ernest Maragall, Michel Reimon, Liliana Rodrigues, Hannu Takkula





María Teresa Giménez Barbat, Hannu Takkula


Isabella Adinolfi


Nikolaos Chountis


Andrea Bocskor, Norbert Erdős, Santiago Fisas Ayxelà, György Hölvényi, Svetoslav Hristov Malinov, Michaela Šojdrová, Sabine Verheyen, Bogdan Brunon Wenta, Milan Zver


Silvia Costa, Damian Drăghici, Petra Kammerevert, Krystyna Łybacka, Luigi Morgano, Momchil Nekov, Liliana Rodrigues, Julie Ward


Ernest Maragall, Michel Reimon




Rikke Karlsson, Zdzisław Krasnodębski, Andrew Lewer


Louise Bours


Dominique Bilde





Key to symbols:

+  :  in favour

-  :  against

0  :  abstention

  • [1]  OJ C 364, 18.12.2000, p. 1.
  • [2]  Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0279.
  • [3]  OJ L 412, 30.12.2006, p. 44.
  • [4]  OJ C 320, 16.12.2008, p. 10.
  • [5]  OJ L 127, 14.5.2011, p. 1418.