REPORT on Towards an EU strategy for international cultural relations

13.6.2017 - (2016/2240(INI))

Committee on Foreign Affairs
Committee on Culture and Education
Rapporteurs: Elmar Brok, Silvia Costa
(Joint committee procedure – Rule 55 of the Rules of Procedure)

Procedure : 2016/2240(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected :  


on Towards an EU strategy for international cultural relations


The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 167(3) and (4) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

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

–  having regard to United Nations Security Council resolution 2347 of 24 March 2017,

–  having regard to the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular Sustainable Development Goals 4 and 17,

‒  having regard to the joint communication of the Commission and the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) to the European Parliament and the Council of 8 June 2016 entitled ‘Towards an EU strategy for international cultural relations’ (JOIN(2016)0029),

‒  having regard to the Commission communication of 10 May 2007 on a European agenda for culture in a globalising world (COM(2007)0242),

–  having regard to the Preparatory Action for Culture in External Relations and its recommendations[1],

–  having regard to the document entitled ‘Shared Vision, Common Action: A Stronger Europe – A Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy’ presented by the VP/HR on 28 June 2016,

‒  having regard to the Council resolution of 16 November 2007 on a European Agenda for Culture[2],

‒  having regard to the Commission report on the implementation of the European Agenda for Culture (COM(2010)0390),

‒  having regard to its resolution of 23 November 2016 on EU strategic communication to counteract propaganda against it by third parties[3],

‒  having regard to the Council of Europe Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society (Faro Convention) of 2005[4],

‒  having regard to the Council conclusions of 16 December 2008 on the promotion of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue in the external relations of the Union and its Member States[5],

‒  having regard to its resolution of 12 May 2011 on the cultural dimensions of the EU’s external actions[6],

‒  having regard to its resolution of 19 January 2016 on the role of intercultural dialogue, cultural diversity and education in promoting EU fundamental values[7],

–  having regard to its resolution of 24 November 2015 on the role of the EU within the UN – how to better achieve EU foreign policy goals[8],

‒  having regard to the Council conclusions of 23 December 2014 on a Work Plan for Culture (2015-2018)[9],

‒  having regard to the 1972 UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage,

‒  having regard to its resolution of 8 September 2015 towards an integrated approach to cultural heritage for Europe[10],

–  having regard to Resolution CM/Res(2010)53 adopted by the Council of Europe establishing an Enlarged Partial Agreement (EPA) on Cultural Routes,

‒  having regard to its resolution of 13 December 2016 on a coherent EU policy for cultural and creative industries[11],

‒  having regard to the Council conclusions of 24 November 2015 on culture in the EU’s external relations with a focus on culture in development cooperation[12],

‒  having regard to its resolution of 30 April 2015 on the destruction of cultural sites perpetrated by ISIS/Daesh, in particular Article 3 thereof, which ‘calls on the VP/HR to use cultural diplomacy and intercultural dialogue as a tool when it comes to reconciling the different communities and rebuilding the destroyed sites’[13],

‒  having regard to its resolution of 10 April 2008 on a European agenda for culture in a globalising world[14],

‒  having regard to the outcome of the 3502nd Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council meeting of 21 and 22 November 2016,

‒  having regard to its study entitled ‘Research for CULT Committee – European Cultural Institutes Abroad’[15],

‒  having regard to its study entitled ‘Research for CULT Committee – European capitals of culture: success strategies and long-term effects’[16],

‒  having regard to the study of 2015 requested by the Commission’s Service for Foreign Policy Instruments (FPI) entitled ‘Analysis of the perception of the EU and EU’s policies abroad’[17],

‒  having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions on towards an EU strategy for international cultural relations,

‒  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on towards an EU strategy for international cultural relations,

‒  having regard to the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on a European Year of Cultural Heritage (2018) (COM(2016)0543),

‒  having regard to the Commission communication on a European Solidarity Corp (COM(2016)0942),

–  having regard to the Council Conclusions of 14 December 2015 on the Review of the European Neighbourhood Policy,

–  having regard to the decision of the International criminal court (ICC) of 27 September 2016, in which Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi was found guilty of the destruction of several mausoleums in Timbuktu, and in which it ruled for the first time, in accordance with the Rome Statute, that the destruction of cultural heritage may be regarded as a war crime,

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

–  having regard to the joint deliberations of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Culture and Education under Rule 55 of the Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Culture and Education (A8-0220/2017),

A.  whereas the EU is becoming a more prominent actor in international relations and should put additional resources and energy into the promotion of its common culture, cultural heritage, artistic creation and innovation within regional diversity, based on Article 167 TFEU;

B.  whereas the EU is an important actor in international politics playing an ever-increasing role in world affairs, including through the promotion of cultural and linguistic diversity in international relations;

C.  whereas culture has an intrinsic value, and the EU’s experience has shown that cultural exchanges can serve to promote its external objectives and as a powerful bridge between people of different ethnic, religious and social backgrounds, not least by reinforcing intercultural and interreligious dialogue and mutual understanding, including through the activities of the European External Action Service (EEAS); considers, in this regard, that culture should become an essential part of the political dialogue with third countries, and that there is a need to systematically integrate culture into projects and programmes;

D.  whereas in order for the EU to foster intercultural understanding, it will have to expand on common communication tools in the form of genuinely European media, such as Arte, Euronews and Euranet;

E.  whereas culture and the protection of culture are inseparably linked to the honouring of human rights and fundamental freedoms;

F.  whereas science cooperation forms an essential element of foreign policy by building bridges between countries, enhancing the quality of international research and raising the profile of science diplomacy;

G.  whereas the EU and its Member States have a variety of common cultural, linguistic, historical and religious roots, and whereas by drawing inspiration from Europe’s cultural, religious and humanist inheritance, they have succeeded in attaining unity in diversity; whereas European culture and cultural heritage, both tangible and intangible, represent the diversity of European societies and regions, of their majority societies as much as of their minority cultures;

H.  whereas the ‘Declaration on promoting citizenship and the common values of freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination through education’, adopted in Paris on March 2015, highlights the need to foster active dialogue between cultures as well as global solidarity and mutual respect;

I.  whereas throughout the history of the EU cultural relations have been fundamental drivers of social cohesion and sustainable economic and human development, while playing a crucial role in strengthening civil society capacities and people-to-people contacts, and in preventing radicalisation, with a view to protecting cultural heritage, reinforcing democratisation processes and engaging in conflict prevention, resolution and resilience;

J.  whereas cultural diplomacy should promote cultural and linguistic diversity, including the preservation of minority languages in the recognition that this constitutes a value in itself, and contributes to Europe's cultural heritage;

K.  whereas human rights also include cultural rights, and whereas equal attention should therefore be given to the right of each individual to participate in cultural life and enjoy his or her own culture, whilst fully respecting the fundamental human rights of all;

L.  whereas restrictive measures were put in place in December 2014 to counter the trading of cultural objects from Syria; whereas there is a clear need for the setting up of an emergency response mechanism to detect and prevent the destruction of cultural heritage and the removal of cultural objects, including in conflict areas or countries, acts that can be used in conflict situations to intimidate or shock, and which in some instances amount to 'cultural cleansing';

M.  whereas culture is a common good, and designing a new consensus on development must include a reflection about reclaiming common public goods, including through culture;

N.  whereas the EU and individual Member States provide more than half of the world’s development aid, a fact that deserves to be better acknowledged;

O.  whereas cultural heritage is a universal legacy, and its protection is therefore a precondition for building peace and resilience;

P.  whereas the joint communication entitled ‘Towards an EU strategy for international cultural relations’ provides a framework for the EU’s international cultural relations; whereas, however, it falls short of identifying thematic and geographical priorities, concrete objectives and outcomes, target groups, common interests and initiatives, financing provisions, sound financial management, a local and regional perspective and challenges and implementation modalities;

Q.  whereas people-to-people contacts such as youth exchanges, city twinning and partnerships in the professional field have been important vehicles for fostering intercultural understanding and should be promoted by the EU in its foreign policy relations;

R.  whereas mobility is an essential part of the EU's international cultural relations, requiring the setting up of mechanisms to facilitate visa access to and from third countries for cultural professionals, researchers, academics, teachers, students and staff, and for alumni networks for former participants in EU programmes[18];

S.  whereas the EU and neighbouring states have historically influenced each other with regard to culture;

T.  whereas cooperation, training, mobility of artists and cultural professionals – and of their works, including through European and international networks, and artist residencies – are key factors in the dissemination and exchange of both European and non-European cultures and arts, and need to be promoted and enhanced;

U.  whereas a visa policy for artists and cultural professionals is key to successful cooperation and to the free circulation of works, through European and international networks, as well as to ensuring active artists' residencies programmes that involve civil societies in the different countries and regions of the world;

V.  whereas it could be a useful starting point to take stock of what has been achieved under the ‘EU agenda for culture’ with a view to further developing and improving the strategy, establishing clear and measureable goals in line with individual country specificities, priorities and realistic outcomes, and learning from best practices;

W.  whereas the EU, as a key partner of the United Nations, should work closely with UNESCO to protect global cultural heritage;

X.  whereas coordination among EU programmes and resources should strengthen the cultural dimension of EU international relations in order to create a shared space of dialogue for cross-cultural understanding and trust;

Y.  whereas EU initiatives and actions should be more visible in third countries, including in those covered by the European Neighbourhood Policy, and their results better attributed, assessed and disseminated[19];

Z.  whereas the number of products and services from the audiovisual, cultural and creative sectors is increasing, as is their contribution to GDP and international circulation;

AA.  whereas many of the European Cultural Routes certified by the Council of Europe pass through countries in the EU's Eastern and Southern Neighbourhood as well as through candidate countries, and whereas this contributes to strengthening the links between the EU and its neighbouring countries;

AB.  whereas the Union's efforts to nurture societal resilience by deepening work on culture, education and youth foster pluralism, coexistence and respect;


1.  Welcomes the joint communication, which offers an overview of all instruments, actions, initiatives, programmes and projects supported or implemented by the EU and its Member States that have culture as a common denominator; calls for the development of an effective EU strategy for international cultural relations;

2.   Acknowledges that the joint communication aims at fostering cultural cooperation within the EU and with its partner countries, and at promoting a global order based on peacekeeping, on fighting extremism and radicalisation through intercultural and interreligious dialogue and on conflict prevention, with respect for democracy, the rule of law, freedom of expression, artistic freedom, mutual understanding, human rights, cultural and linguistic diversity and fundamental values; stresses, furthermore, the important role of cultural diplomacy, education and cultural exchange in strengthening a common core of universal values;

3.  Acknowledges the efforts realised by EEAS, together with the Commission, to enhance the external dimension of science and research policies, and urges the Commission to foster the development of an ambitious science diplomacy;

4.  Calls for cultural rights to be promoted as integral fundamental human rights, and for culture to be considered for its intrinsic value as a fourth standalone, transversal pillar of sustainable development together with social, economic and environmental dimensions;

5.  Welcomes the approach of the joint communication, which identifies three work streams: supporting culture as an engine for sustainable social and economic development; promoting culture and intercultural dialogue for peaceful inter-community relations; and reinforcing cooperation on cultural heritage;

6.  Calls for artistic freedom of expression to be promoted as a value and an endeavour of the European Union, fostering free dialogue and the exchange of good practices at international level;

7.   Underlines that the EU has multiple and diverse experiences in inclusive governance, that its strength is in being united in its diversity and that this is where the EU adds value;

8.   Recognises that while principles of subsidiarity and proportionality have to be respected in the field of culture – considering also the EU’s and the Member States’ common cultural roots and heritage, and the result of long-standing artistic and cultural interactions – creating the habit to work and create together has built a foundation of respect for, and understanding of, other cultures;

9.   Stresses that the EU is an arena in which all Member States join forces to play a stronger role in the field of international cultural relations, taking advantage of the mutual benefits of cooperation;

10.   Suggests that each Member State could launch joint actions together with the EU to highlight a different EU country each year by means of, e.g., exhibitions and co-productions, with a special role given to the rotating presidency, with a view to delivering additional intrinsic value for the EU and the Member States and to increasing the visibility of their actions and initiatives abroad, including through EU delegations, with specific human and financial resources made available to this end;

11.  Member States, especially smaller Member States and their cultural institutions and actors, could add value to their cultural achievements by using the EU to promote and share them abroad;

12.  Cultural diplomacy can function as an envoy of the EU and its Member States;

13.   Recalls, with respect to tangible and intangible cultural heritage, the importance of cooperation among the Member States and the EU institutions in terms of accessibility research, promotion, preservation and management, and the fight against trafficking, looting and destruction, including through regionally dedicated funds and assistance, and through trans-border police cooperation, both inside and outside the EU;

14.  Stresses the role of independent media in promoting cultural diversity and intercultural competences, and the need to strengthen such media as a source of credible information, especially in the EU neighbourhood;

15.   Welcomes the fact that the joint communication introduces cultural and creative industries as an important element of the EU's strategy for international cultural relations; whereas these industries contribute to Europe’s ‘soft power’ in their role as ambassadors of European values, especially with regards to regional creative hubs and cultural networks, and recommends that they be identified and offered stimulation as well as skills development; calls on the Commission to upgrade the networks of creative and cultural agents and actors, with a specific focus on SMEs, European creative districts and creative platforms, as generators of multiplier effects and innovation, including in other fields;

16.  Asks the Commission and the VP/HR to identify ‘cultural actors’ as playing an integral role in the implementation of the joint communication, clarifying that these should include, among other categories, artists, cultural and creative professionals, cultural institutions, private and public foundation, universities, and culture and creative businesses;

Governance and tools

17.  Calls on the Commission and the VP/HR to present annual and multiannual action plans in this field, which should include actions, strategic thematic and geographical priorities and common objectives, and for a periodic review of the implementation of the joint communication, the outcome of which should be reported to Parliament;

18.  Stresses the need for greater coherence among EU policies and actions involving third countries; stresses the need to draw on existing research results, best practices and other EU-funded initiatives and instruments relating to protection of cultural heritage that could benefit cooperation with third countries; calls for enhanced synergies between all actors involved, and of other EU-funded initiatives that could be beneficial to achieving the objectives of the strategy, to ensure resource efficiency, optimised outcomes and enhanced impact of EU actions and initiatives; recommends a stocktaking exercise to guarantee an effective approach;

19.  Urges the Commission, in the next multiannual financial framework, to provide for a budget line dedicated to supporting international cultural relations in existing programmes and future calls, especially in the next generation of programmes on culture and education, so that these can develop their international action in a proper way;

20.   Proposes that a dedicated EU programme be designed and resources focused on international mobility and exchanges such as residency programmes especially for young cultural and creative professionals and artists;

21.  Proposes, in this context, that alumni and former beneficiaries of Erasmus and other mobility educational and volunteering programmes should be encouraged to make use of their intercultural skills and competences to the benefit of others, and should become influential actors in the development of partnerships in the field of cultural external relations;

22.  Calls on the Commission to develop the cultural tourism dimension by, for example, drafting and exchanging thematic programmes and best practices in order to facilitate international mobility and exchanges with citizens from third countries, as well as access to cultural items;

23.  Calls on the Commission and the EEAS to include international cultural relations in international cooperation instruments and programmes in a horizontal way, and in the course of the mid-term review exercises, in order to ensure coherency and to turn international cultural relations into an efficient tool;

24.  Calls on the Commission to strengthen the impact of the cultural dimension in international relations by including the cultural dimension systematically in negotiations and in association agreements; underlines the need for the EU to set principles of conduct for cooperation partners in transnational projects and create a flexible framework for facilitating transnational cultural cooperation by removing barriers;

25.   Calls on the Commission to further support cultural relations with Neighbourhood countries through technical assistance, capacity-building programmes training, skill development, and knowledge transfer – also in the media sphere – to improve governance and favour new partnerships at national, regional, local and cross-border levels, while providing a follow-up to regional programmes in Southern and Eastern Neighbourhood countries, including the Western Balkans;

26.  Underlines that, for reasons of sustainability, the EU's external cultural funding activities must result from a strong involvement of local partners, adaptation of programmes to local realities and a due consideration of the post-funding period for projects, including transition to national financing or other revenue-models;

27.  Highlights the importance of culture and human rights initiatives, which should aim at supporting cultural professionals in countries or regions where their rights are threatened; calls for such programmes to be jointly funded by the European Endowment for Democracy and the European Neighbourhood Instrument;

28.  Stresses that an active civil society in partner countries may help considerably when it comes to spreading the values promoted by the EU, and that it is therefore essential that the EU, when cultivating its bilateral relations, bolsters support for the civil society organisations of the cultural sector in partner countries;

29.   Calls on the Commission to include culture in all existing and future bilateral and multilateral agreements, with adequate budget provisions and with due respect for the commitments made under the UNESCO Convention on Cultural Diversity, in order to place further emphasis on the economic potential of cultural heritage and the cultural and creative sectors in promoting sustainable development, including in the areas of growth and jobs, and on their impact on social wellbeing; argues that this could be done, for example, in the next negotiation mandate for the new partnership with ACP countries after 2020; calls for EU indicators to be developed in that field as a means of contributing to the cultural policy debate;

30.  Stresses the importance of youth mobility and university cooperation schemes as highly valuable measures for establishing long-term academic and cultural relations;

31.   Calls on the Commission to strengthen the international dimension of Erasmus+, Creative Europe, Europe for Citizens and Horizon 2020; recalls, in this regard, the crucial role that EU programmes in the fields of culture, education, youth and sport have as core elements in tackling intolerance and prejudices, as well as in fostering the sense of common belonging and respect for cultural diversity; calls on the Commission to promote, particularly within the context of the European Neighbourhood Policy, participation in these programmes by the partner countries closest to the EU;

32.  Recognises the Commission's efforts to promote the role of science, research, education and cultural cooperation as soft-power tools in European external relations; highlights that scientific and cultural exchanges contribute to capacity building and conflict resolution, particularly in relations with neighbouring countries;

33.  Calls on the Commission to reinforce and expand COSME (the EU programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) to cover the strategy for international cultural relations, and to reinforce, through EU thematic programmes, SMEs active in the culture sector in countries outside the EU;

34.  Highlights the role of the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee, and the role of regional and local authorities, and of civil society, in the formulation of the strategy;

35.  Stresses that Parliament should play an active role in promoting culture in the EU's external action, including through its information and liaison offices;

36.   Calls on the Commission and the EEAS to appoint a 'focal point' in each EU delegation to liaise with Member States' national cultural institutes, representatives and local civil societies, actors and authorities in a structured dialogue process aimed at jointly identifying common priority areas, needs and methods of cooperation, and to provide adequate budget and training; asks the Commission and the EEAS to report to Parliament on the state of implementation and achieved results every two years;

37.  Calls for the allocation of appropriate human and financial resources in the EEAS for cultural international relations, empowering the EEAS with a catalytic leadership role within the different EU services dealing with the international cultural relations;

38.  Advocates international cultural relations as a subject for education, training and research with a view to building the capacity of actors in that field, as well as to enhancing cultural participation through education, including by providing EU staff with relevant training on cultural competences;

39.   Calls for the role of Member States’ cultural institutes to be clearly framed with regard to the EU’s cultural influence outside its borders, and in the context of an inclusive and shared European narrative, through the EU National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC) network and other forums, and advocates an inclusive and equal approach towards all stakeholders, including civil society; praises, in this regard, the work carried out to date by Member States' cultural institutions; encourages further collaboration abroad with a view to optimising Member States' interests, with particular attention given to smaller Member States and Member States with no cultural institutes abroad, and to their cultural representation needs;

40.  Calls for a reinforcement of the strategic partnership with UNESCO in the implementation of the joint communication, using its credibility in Europe and its global outreach to multiply the effects of joint actions with all EU and non-EU stakeholders, and for consideration to be given to associating it to the future working groups or advisory boards to assist in the implementation of the communication;

41.   Emphasises the need to redefine the important role of national cultural institutes in intercultural exchanges, bearing in mind that some of these have long traditions with many contacts in third countries, allowing them to serve as a solid foundation for cooperation and communication among the various European players; points, furthermore, to their potential to promote and facilitate bilateral relationships between countries and to help develop and implement a European strategy for cultural diplomacy;

42.  Calls on the Commission and the VP/HR to further support the development of the individually tailored EUVP study programme (European Union Visitors Programme) as a powerful tool for enhancing dialogue, promoting democracy and providing a permanent platform for young and future leaders and opinion-builders from third countries and for key interlocutors within European institutions and civil society organisations;

43.  Welcomes the establishment of the Cultural Diplomacy Platform and calls for it to be made sustainable, with a regular evaluation of its objectives, results and governance; recognises that many different institutional and non-institutional stakeholders[20] are active in the area of international cultural relations, and asks the Commission to promote a structured dialogue among all stakeholders, including through the open method of coordination;

44.   Calls for the setting-up, without delay, of a mechanism for the prevention, assessment, the reconstruction of cultural heritage in danger, and for the evaluation of losses, including a rapid emergency mechanism to safeguard heritage in countries of conflict, building on the experience of the UN's Blue Helmets for Culture task force initiative, in close and structured cooperation with UNESCO and with the technological support of Copernicus – the European Earth Observation Programme; welcomes, in this regard, the adoption of United Nations Security Council resolution 2347, which states that the destruction of cultural heritage may constitute a war crime, and calls on the EU and the EEAS to work with all partners to contribute to conflict prevention, peace building and the processes of restoration and reconciliation in all areas affected by conflict;

45.  Calls for coordination at EU level to combat the unlawful trafficking of cultural items stolen during armed conflicts and wars, and to recover such items, in the recognition that such coordination has a vital role in efforts to block the financing of terrorist groups;

46.  Highlights the need to reinforce the EU-UNESCO strategic partnership by creating a sustained platform for cooperation and communication on shared priorities with a view to tackling common challenges in culture and education effectively;

47.  Proposes that special attention be given, at the European Culture Forum and during the European Development Days, to a structured dialogue with civil society and stakeholders on the topic of the EU's international cultural relations;

48.  Calls on the Commission to organise a specific colloquium/forum for cultural actors on culture and development, in keeping with the EU-ACP Brussels Declaration of April 2009, and that this should be open to actors from the EU's neighbourhood and from other strategic partner countries;

49.  Considers the decision for a European year of Cultural Heritage 2018 an opportunity to contribute to the promotion of cultural heritage, with an integrated approach, as an important element of the EU's international dimension, building on the interest of partner countries on Europe's heritage and expertise;

50.  Calls for efficient implementation of the legal instruments already in place to better protect cultural heritage, copyright and intellectual property; asks the Commission to present the envisaged legislative proposal to regulate the import of cultural goods into the EU, in particular such goods from conflict areas, as a means of combating trafficking;

51.  Calls on the EU and the Member States – having signed and ratified, and thus committed themselves to the implementation of, the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions – to support common actions for its implementation;

People-to-people approach

52.  Agrees with the proposal of the joint communication to shift from a top-down showcasing approach to a people-to-people (P2P) approach, stressing processes of co-creation and co-production in cultural and creative industries; considers that culture should reach all citizens;

53.   Recognises that young people are one of the main target groups in the EU and partner countries and that exposure to other cultures and languages offers experiences that often create a livelong affinity, and acknowledges that performing arts, visual arts, street arts, music, theatre, film, literature and social media, and digital platforms in general, are the best channels for reaching and engaging them;

54.  Asks that joint projects between the EU and third countries in the field of research and development of digitalisation of cultural heritage be valorised also in order to facilitate access to knowledge, the development of new services and products, and the promotion of a new cultural tourism;

55.  Calls for the value and role of cultural content, of which Europe is one of the major producers, to be integrated into European policies, including in the digital sector, with a view to creating global virtual citizens’ networks to increase cultural participation and exchange;

56.  Calls for the setting up of an EU connectivity initiative to assist geographically disadvantaged youths in order to allow them to participate more actively;

57.  Welcomes initiatives by the Commission to promote peer-to-peer learning for young cultural entrepreneurs, such as the Med Culture programme, or to support initiatives in training in intercultural relations, such as More Europe;

58.   Advocates measures to make it as easy as possible for third countries to participate further in cross-border and joint projects such as the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe, as well as to include them as players in the future strategy suggested for EU delegations in third countries, allowing them to take full advantage for their work in third countries of EU cultural activities such as the European Capital of Culture and the Lux Prize; recalls that digital tools, technological platforms such as Europeana, and cultural networks can play a crucial role in reaching larger audiences and disseminating best practices;

59.  Calls for the creation of a cultural visa programme, along the lines of the existing Scientific Visa Programme, for third-country nationals, artists and other professionals in the cultural field with a view to fostering cultural relations and eliminating obstacles to mobility in the cultural sector;

60.  Calls on the Commission to step up collaboration with the Council of Europe, in particular in programmes dedicated to highlighting culture as a vehicle for democracy, intercultural dialogue, cultural heritage and the audiovisual world;

61.  Recognises the need for an in-depth knowledge of the field, and of local actors and civil society, in order to improve these actors’ access to programmes and funding and to ensure that the multiplying effect of their participation in EU programmes and initiatives is exploited; recommends that local actors, including local authorities, be consulted with a view to co-designing programmes; calls for the development of innovative collaborative approaches relying on tools and networks already in place (grants, sub-grants)[21], and for these to be followed up, taking gender balance into account;

62.  Acknowledges that development strategies and programmes focus heavily on material and sociocultural deprivation; calls for better outreach to vulnerable communities, including in rural and remote areas, with a view to fostering social cohesion;

63.  Call for improved visibility and better dissemination of the EU’s and the Member States’ activities in the field of culture at international level, including through the setting up common guidelines[22] and by reaching out to target audiences in their local languages;

64.   Calls for a paradigm shift in media coverage by encouraging the provision of European cultural information, with the launch of an EU cultural portal, festivals and the elaboration of the concept of the European Houses of Culture, including through structured engagement with local media and social media platforms as well as in cooperation with EBU, EURONEWS and EURANET, among others;

65.  Encourages the EU to fully take advantage of the potential of multimedia research to understand the current challenges and opportunities in developing countries, including on matters related to culture and on the assessment of the role of culture in development and international cooperation;

EU Global Strategy

66.   Highlights the important role of culture in EU external policy as a soft power tool, a catalyst for peacekeeping, stability and reconciliation, and as an engine for sustainable socio-economic and human development;

67.  Stresses the crucial role of education and culture in fostering citizenship and intercultural skills, as well as in building better social, human and economic prospects;

68.   Praises the fact that the EU Global Strategy highlights the importance of intercultural and interreligious dialogue in enhancing mutual understanding; regrets, however, that the intrinsic value of culture and art as restraints against radicalism and terrorism is not mentioned; requests, therefore, that instruments specifically dedicated to the strengthening of, and cooperation with, the cultural sector be reinforced;69.  Calls on the Commission to step up its cooperation with international organisations such as the United Nations, UNESCO, Interpol, the World Customs Organisation and the International Council of Museums in order to strengthen the fight against trafficking in cultural goods that can serve to finance criminal activities, including the financing of terrorist organisations;

70.  Calls on the VP/HR to give a specific role to cultural issues in the implementation road map of the EU Global Strategy;

71.  Underlines that the EU, the foundations of which are based on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, should build on its experiences and lessons learnt when it comes to external policy, and that this should be reflected in the development of relations with third countries through culture and cultural heritage, noting in this regard that this would also provide an opportunity for the EU to showcase and export its cultural values;

72.  Calls for targeted cultural and educational policies that can support key EU foreign and security policy objectives and contribute to reinforcing democracy, the rule of law and the protection of human rights; recalls that 2018 will be the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

73.  Recognises that the EU's cultural influence enables it to project visibility in international affairs through the channels of its diverse cultural identity;

74.  Recalls that education and culture are fundamental drivers when it comes to facilitating the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in 2030, with specific attention to urban regeneration and to cities in Europe and in the world; calls, therefore, for the proposal for a new European Consensus on Development to highlight the role of culture and the protection and promotion of cultural expressions;

75.  Calls for international cultural relations to be strengthened in discussions on ‘migration’ and refugee policies; urges the EU, whose strength is in being united in diversity, to adopt a balanced approach that respects cultural differences, and in which diasporas play a crucial role; stresses that culture should be a bridge for mutual understanding with a view to living together in greater harmony;

76.  Acknowledges that the EU also operates in specific environments in which the political context and the legal frameworks for the fruition of cultural relations are hostile and repressive; recognises that in third countries the EU often suffers the consequences of inaccurate, partial and subjective information and is the target of outright propaganda; calls for special measures and appropriate action in this regard;

77.  Calls on the EU and the Member States to reinforce the resources available for access to education and culture, in particular for migrant and refugee minors in EU and third countries; asks for support to ‘educational corridors’ for university students at EU universities (in collaboration as well with telematic universities), always respecting linguistic and cultural diversity;

78.  Calls on the Commission and the EEAS to foster cultural relations with the EU’s direct neighbours with a view to promoting concrete actions aimed at stimulating intercultural dialogue[23] and tackling the issues of migration, security and radicalisation that the EU is facing;

79.  Recommends that the EU works with all relevant institutions working in this field and with local partners to pursue its objectives in the field of international cultural relations, both through multilateral cooperation in international organisations and through partnerships with key actors on the ground;

80.  Calls on the Commission and the EEAS to strengthen cooperation with the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe, an institutional tool for strengthening grassroots cultural relations also with third countries, with a view to promoting the fundamental values of cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue and sustainable territorial development of less well-known cultural destinations, while preserving their shared cultural heritage;

81.  Encourages the EU to work closely with all states that share its goals and values and are prepared to act in their support; stresses that this is particularly important in order to establish a legitimate and stable action for the EU to be recognised as a ‘global player’;


°  °

82.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the European External Action Service and the governments and parliaments of the Member States.


Together with its partner countries and its Member States, the European Union promotes peace, stability and the well-being of their people. With the destabilisation and several crises the world is facing, thinking of new ways of approaching diplomacy is essential.

Therefore, the European Union, which strength is to be united in its diversity, needs to find innovative ways to engage by creating a space of dialogue and awareness. Culture is a fundamental right for individuals: it helps to create individual and collective fulfilment in societies. Culture has long been a strategic standard feature of EU international relations[1] and is a recognised sector of cooperation with a cross-cutting approach in both developing and developed countries[2]. The promotion of international cultural relations as a soft power tool is essential in a positive manner. This has to go hand in hand with reciprocity: international cultural relations aims both at to contribute to enhancing European values in the rest of the world and raising awareness of other cultures among European citizens and our capacity to learn from them.

The European Commission and the High Representative presented, on 8 June 2016, the Joint Communication “Towards an EU strategy for international cultural relations”[3]. It aims at encouraging cultural cooperation between the EU and its partner countries; and promoting a global order based on peace, the rule of law, freedom of expression, intercultural and interreligious dialogue, mutual understanding and respect for fundamental values.

In 2011, in its resolution of 12 May 2011 on the cultural dimensions of the EU’s external actions (2010/2161(INI)) the European Parliament reaffirmed the importance of culture in external policies and expressed concerns at the fragmentation of external EU cultural policy and projects. It therefore asked for “the development of a visible common EU strategy on the cultural aspects of the EU’s external relations”. It called for a central internet portal that should carry information on relevant funding programmes and cultural events and asked for structures dedicated to culture in the European External Action Service (EEAS) and dedicated staff in the EU delegations.

In addition, in the preparation for the budget for 2013, the EP voted for a preparatory action for Culture in External relations. Under this preparatory action, a study was drawn up that was based on an extensive mapping and consultation process which involved a wide variety of stakeholders from inside and outside the EU. It was presented and discussed in a conference in April 2014 and fed into the development of the strategy at hand.

In the Council Conclusions of 23 December 2014 on a Work Plan for Culture (2015-2018), the Council scheduled further steps working towards a strategic approach to culture in EU external relations, such as a study on existing programmes available for culture for European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) countries and joint informal meetings of senior Member State officials working in Ministries of Culture and/or Foreign Affairs and follow-up activities on the preparatory action.

As a response to the joint Communication, the European Parliament decided to prepare, under the umbrella of the CULT and AFET Committees, the present own-initiative report. The report presents its objectives and proposes a series of concrete actions and recommendations, under the ‘governance and tools’ part; recommendation that the EU should adopt in view of the establishment of a future strategy on international cultural relations.

The joint report is structured around four strands:

•  Objectives

•  Governance and tools

•  People to people approach

•  The EU global strategy

The report asks to promote cultural rights as an integral part of the fundamental human rights; and to consider culture for its intrinsic value as a fourth stand-alone and transversal pillar of the sustainable development together with social, economic and environmental dimensions.

After recognising that an improved coherence among EU policies and actions for third countries is needed, the report calls for enhanced synergies between all involved actors, including Member States, international organizations and local authorities, to ensure resources’ efficiency. The report calls for the EU and Member States to join their forces: each Member States ‘rotating presidency could launch joint actions together with the EU, such as exhibitions, and festivals, particularly for countries with no cultural representations abroad. It also recommends to dedicate the appropriate human and financial resources to EEAS and the Commission and to name a ‘focal point’ in each EU delegations to liaise with relevant stakeholders and to advocate that international cultural relations becomes a subject for education, training and research in order to improve capacity building of actors in that field. The report also calls for a clear framing of the role of Member States cultural institutes, through EUNIC, and other networks and advocates an inclusive and equal approach towards all stakeholders.

The report asks the Commission and the VP/HR to present annual and multiannual action plans with actions, strategic thematic and geographic priorities and common objectives and for a periodic review of the implementation of the Joint Communication and to report to the EP;

It also asks to include culture in all existing and future cooperation bilateral and multilateral agreements with adequate budgets, and to strengthen the international dimension particularly in Erasmus, Creative Europe and Horizon2020.

The report proposes the design of a dedicated EU programme and resources focused on international mobility and exchanges especially for young cultural and creative professionals and artists such as residency programmes;

Another important axis tackled by the report is the need to involve citizens, stakeholders, networks, civil society and NGOs, in order to improve their access to programmes and funding, particularly the importance of shifting from a top-down show-casing approach to a people-to-people (P2P) approach. More consideration must be given to the power of civil society to pursue intercultural exchange, people to people dialogue, peace-building initiatives and the strengthening of social cohesion. The arts are a powerful tool to bring this about. The EU can be a key player in such exchanges: it is able to develop, support and exchange best practices.

Particular attention should be given to young people activities (e.g. local artists, grassroots sport) and the ways in which their activities do constitute highly critical and independent thinking and influence both their daily life and the relations between peoples.

Therefore, the report recommends the early consultation of local actors, civil society organisations, and to rely on already existing expertise and networks, through the promotion of a structured dialogue; On top of the recommendations cited above, the report reminds that EU activities in the field of culture at international level should be more visible and better disseminated.

Furthermore, the link to the EU Global Strategy is fundamental in the report. It is more than necessary when it comes to intercultural and interreligious dialogue. Enhancing dialogue between religious communities is essential to foster mutual understanding in the view of preventing and combatting extremism, radicalisation and marginalisation. The emphasis is on acknowledgment, understanding and tolerance of other cultures on the basis of a binding global ethic founded on universal values and mutual respect across cultural boundaries (UNESCO).

The report asks the EU to closely collaborate with all those states that share its goals and values and are prepared to act in their support; this is particularly important in order to establish a legitimate and stable action for the EU to be recognised as a “global player”.

  • [1]  “European agenda for culture in a globalising world” (COM(2007)0242).
  • [2]  Commission report on the implementation on the implementation of the European Agenda for Culture (COM(2010)0390).
  • [3]


Date adopted





Result of final vote







Members present for the final vote

Michèle Alliot-Marie, Nikos Androulakis, Petras Auštrevičius, Andrea Bocskor, Mario Borghezio, Victor Boştinaru, Klaus Buchner, James Carver, Fabio Massimo Castaldo, Nikolaos Chountis, Silvia Costa, Javier Couso Permuy, Andi Cristea, Arnaud Danjean, Angel Dzhambazki, Georgios Epitideios, Knut Fleckenstein, Anna Elżbieta Fotyga, Eugen Freund, Michael Gahler, María Teresa Giménez Barbat, Giorgos Grammatikakis, Iveta Grigule, Sandra Kalniete, Petra Kammerevert, Manolis Kefalogiannis, Janusz Korwin-Mikke, Eduard Kukan, Ilhan Kyuchyuk, Ryszard Antoni Legutko, Sabine Lösing, Ulrike Lunacek, Svetoslav Hristov Malinov, Andrejs Mamikins, David McAllister, Tamás Meszerics, Francisco José Millán Mon, Luigi Morgano, Javier Nart, Momchil Nekov, Pier Antonio Panzeri, Demetris Papadakis, Alojz Peterle, Tonino Picula, Kati Piri, Julia Pitera, Cristian Dan Preda, Jozo Radoš, Jordi Solé, Jaromír Štětina, Dubravka Šuica, Charles Tannock, Helga Trüpel, Miguel Urbán Crespo, Ivo Vajgl, Geoffrey Van Orden, Sabine Verheyen, Anders Primdahl Vistisen, Boris Zala, Bogdan Andrzej Zdrojewski, Krystyna Łybacka

Substitutes present for the final vote

Laima Liucija Andrikienė, Neena Gill, Marek Jurek, Antonio López-Istúriz White, Morten Løkkegaard, David Martin, Norica Nicolai, Soraya Post, Marietje Schaake, Jean-Luc Schaffhauser, Igor Šoltes, Bodil Valero, Marie-Christine Vergiat

Substitutes under Rule 200(2) present for the final vote

Ramona Nicole Mănescu, Josep-Maria Terricabras, Vladimir Urutchev, Jarosław Wałęsa, Flavio Zanonato





Petras Auštrevičius, María Teresa Giménez Barbat, Iveta Grigule, Ilhan Kyuchyuk, Morten Løkkegaard, Javier Nart, Norica Nicolai, Jozo Radoš, Marietje Schaake, Ivo Vajgl


Fabio Massimo Castaldo


Michèle Alliot-Marie, Laima Liucija Andrikienė, Andrea Bocskor, Arnaud Danjean, Michael Gahler, Sandra Kalniete, Manolis Kefalogiannis, Eduard Kukan, Antonio López-Istúriz White, Svetoslav Hristov Malinov, Ramona Nicole Mănescu, David McAllister, Francisco José Millán Mon, Alojz Peterle, Julia Pitera, Cristian Dan Preda, Jaromír Štětina, Dubravka Šuica, Vladimir Urutchev, Sabine Verheyen, Jarosław Wałęsa, Bogdan Andrzej Zdrojewski


Nikos Androulakis, Victor Boştinaru, Silvia Costa, Andi Cristea, Knut Fleckenstein, Eugen Freund, Neena Gill, Giorgos Grammatikakis, Petra Kammerevert, Krystyna Łybacka, Andrejs Mamikins, David Martin, Luigi Morgano, Momchil Nekov, Pier Antonio Panzeri, Demetris Papadakis, Tonino Picula, Kati Piri, Soraya Post, Boris Zala, Flavio Zanonato


Klaus Buchner, Ulrike Lunacek, Tamás Meszerics, Igor Šoltes, Jordi Solé, Josep-Maria Terricabras, Helga Trüpel, Bodil Valero




Angel Dzhambazki, Anna Elżbieta Fotyga, Marek Jurek, Ryszard Antoni Legutko, Charles Tannock, Geoffrey Van Orden, Anders Primdahl Vistisen


James Carver


Mario Borghezio, Jean-Luc Schaffhauser


Nikolaos Chountis


Georgios Epitideios, Janusz Korwin-Mikke




Javier Couso Permuy, Sabine Lösing, Miguel Urbán Crespo, Marie-Christine Vergiat

Key to symbols:

+  :  in favour

-  :  against

0  :  abstention