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PUBLICATIONS, Structural and Cohesion Policies

European Capitals of Culture: preparing the programme for 2019


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Based on the results of the evaluations of the previous programmes, the online and the public consultation, the Commission introduced its proposal (COM 2012/407 final) for a decision about a new Community action on the European Capitals of Culture on 20 July 2012. This document retains successful aspects of the current programme while bringing also some innovations.

The accompanying Commission’s staff working document (SWP 2012/226)  compares the different options and explains why the Commission wishes to continue. Furthermore it describes the Community action’s history and presents a justification for EU intervention as well as an impact analysis.

EP has voted the CULT committee’s report in Plenary on 12 December 2013 (P7_TA (2013) 590) and the Commission adopted EP’s amended document the same day. Council and EP’s CULT committee adopted the new rules on 6 February 2014 (Council press release FR / EN).

European Capitals of Culture (ECoC) is considered one of the most prestigious event and ambitious cultural initiative in Europe. Its aim is to foster a feeling of European citizenship, as well as give the opportunity to regenerate cities and give new vitality to their cultural life. In addition, also citizens’ appreciation of the programme guaranteed its continuation after 2019.

Since Decision 1622/2006/EC regulating the ongoing “European Capitals of Culture” programme will end in 2019, a new legal base for the future European Capitals of Culture programme has to be adopted in 2013 in order to ensure a smooth transition to 2020.

General structure and main features of ECoC, are confirmed as there are:

– the rotating award system among Member States;

– the title will be reserved to single cities, not to areas or regions;

– the award will be based on a cultural programme specifically European, and created for the year of attribution;

– the duration of the attribution is fixed to a full year;

– the selection process will maintain its two-stage scheme, by guaranteeing to the cities the possibility to improve their application based on the advice received by a European panel of experts.

The main changes introduced by the new legal base refer to:

– clearer selection and participation criteria that will allow to better measure candidates’ requirements;

– an optimisation of potential leverage effect of the initiative on stimulating long-term projects. This will ensure the capacity of candidate cities to actually host the title, but also to ensure the high quality of the cultural and artistic content, to foster a large participation of the local populations and to try to ensure the stability of the budgets and the independence of the artistic teams;

– a reinforcement of the Melina Mercouri Prize;

– more careful selection and closer guidance of cities participating in the programme. In particular, the panel’s visits to the cities have been made systematic, as well as the links between past and future capitals in order to exchange best practise;

– opening of the programme to candidate countries to enter the EU after 2019.

For further information, you may consult the Commission website and the following EP Library products:

– Library Summary: European Capitals of Culture after 2019 (July 2012)

– Library Navigator: European Capitals of Culture (July 2012)

– Library Briefing: European Capitals of Culture: Current issues and future prospects (May 2012)

– Europe’s Capitals of Culture in 2014 are Rīga in Latvia and Umeå in Sweden (Commission press release)

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