ROME – The Promise of the EU 12-13/09/14

The European Union (EU) has entered yet another challenging period. Still enlarging, with
Croatia joining this year, 2014, and possibly still more countries will join. The Union’s
popularity is still strong. Of course, citizens’ concerns relating to the financial crisis have
affected the Union negatively and the Union has not persuaded citizens in voting favorably
for the constitution of Europe or other treaties, as witnessed by the votes in France, the
Netherlands, Denmark and Ireland and the massive abstention in the recent European
Parliament elections, Euro-skeptic parties in France and Britain did spectacularly well.
However, one should bear in mind all those millions of citizens who voted for pro-European
parties and in all those countries where in referendum, voters voted yes – still indicates that
the majority of citizens support the EU idea.

Today, the EU is starting to develop in the minds of citizens a political identity, which can be
negative, but a positive part of this identity is that increasingly Europeans do identify with
each other as well as with their own nation state. In other words, citizens are developing
multiple identities – they identify with their own country, but they also identify themselves as
Europeans.

To a certain extent, European Union is achieving good goals concerning the protection of
human rights, respects on minorities (who remains a sensitive question in many countries)
and this is a major progress compared with the situation before World War II and the failure
of the League of Nations (LN) to protect minorities in Europe.

This ‘European identity’ has been nurtured by the European dimension of culture. Culture is
a way to express creativity, imagination but also is a tool to develop reflection, openness to
others, and exchange between people. The role of culture in a mass society (especially in a
mass society as the European Union split in 28 Member States) is irreplaceable. Culture
provides for social cohesion and is also a tool for freedom of expression. Artists and cultural
professionals have been by and large favourably disposed to the Union. They have benefited
from European funding programmes and initiatives like the Culture Programme, the Media
Programme and the European Cultural Capitals initiative. These have now been bundled into
a single programme; the “Creative Europe Programme”. This programme offers grants to
cultural organisations to make and distribute films, stage artistic performances and carryout
all sorts of cultural activities, further training of artists and encouraging cross-border mobility
and cross-border projects. This year, 2014, was the programme’s first operational year.
However, the funding remains modest: 1.5 billion for 5 years for 28 Member States.

The challenge of the financial crisis has destroyed the lives of millions of citizens in Europe
and internationally. What better way to improve the situation by developing new cultural and
artistic events and new music, theatre, film and other cultural products that people want to
enjoy. European has lost much of her competitiveness in the arts and culture to non-EU
countries, particularly the US. The US better promotes itself and it vastly better funds culture.
What can the EU do in the future to enable Europe cultural and artistic talent to nurture and
to compete internationally?

For the future, the European Union needs to think how to enforce the ways and means to
fund cultural heritage and contemporary artistic creation, especially through other financial
instruments than Creative Europe whose funding remains, however despite his success,
desperately small as said before. Structural funds, Regional funds are also a major source
of funding for certain cultural activities. But new sources of funding are needed to support
the development of cultural industry who is a major source of growth providing 4.2% of total
employment – 9.3 million jobs in Europe.

We believe also that the new challenge for Europe is to enforce the place of culture in the
external relationships of the EU for its Member States and their societies.
A 2007 EC Communication on an European agenda for culture in a globalizing world (COM
(2007) 242 final), adopted by the European Parliament and the Council in 2008 has launched
the process. There is a need to build a full cooperation in the field of culture with other
countries in the global world.

EU, who has been able to build a peaceful space in Europe on the ruins of two world wars
and after the end of the iron curtain, based on the rule of law and the full respect of human
rights in the continuity of “L’esprit des Lumières”. This has a major role to play in the light of
the UNESCO Convention of 2005 on the protection and the promotion of the diversity of
cultural expressions to promote cultural dialogue and cultural exchanges between the
various parts of the world.

EU needs, with other members of the International community, to develop a spirit of global
cultural citizenship based on common cultural rights and a shared responsibility in this field,
providing access and participation of all.

Then, a world cultural cooperation based on the values developed by EU and nourished by
the intercultural dialogue and the research of global solidarity could be a major contribution to
the resolution of human conflicts, interracial disputes, to the protection of minorities and the
promotion of tolerance.

We are pleased that the High representative for European External Action Service of EU,
Mrs. Frederica Mogherini, could hear this message and include in her policy framework an
agenda for culture in the external relationships. We ask this forum to support such motion
and to present it as a result of our collective works these two days.

 

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