EU Cultural Diplomacy: time to define strategies, means and complementarity with Member States

03 / 2017
Riccardo Trobbiani

On the 23rd of May 2017, the Council of the European Union adopted conclusions on Culture in the European Union's external relations, by welcoming the Joint Communication Towards an EU strategy for international cultural relations  presented by the European Commission in June 2016. 

This EL-CSID Policy brief argues that, if the EU wants to define a real strategy for its external cultural action, it needs to provide a clearer definition of what ‘culture’ it is promoting (and how), and of what ‘complementarity’ with Member States means. First, EU Cultural Diplomacy should build upon EU’s experience in intercultural dialogue and capacity building rather than try to showcase European culture as a Soft Power tool. Consequently, cooperation with Member States and their cultural institutes should be sought on intercultural dialogue and capacity building, by jointly using MS’ networks, resources and connection with local actors to build locally-tailored strategies in co-ownership with target countries. Finally, the EU should identify specific financial means supporting cultural capacity building and intercultural dialogue, both in its own external relations as well as in its enhanced cooperation with Member States and their cultural institutes.