Creating Common Spaces for Culture: The “European Houses of Culture” Project

The European Union takes another step forward in the recognition of culture in international relations

April 03rd, 2019
Maria Gobbi, News from Berlin
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Since 2007, the European Union has embraced the role of culture as essential for its external relations. Now, it wants to reunite this strategy under one common roof.

During the past few years, the European Union has turned more and more towards a vision of culture as an engine to foster international cooperation and development with third parties. The 2016 Joint Communication “Towards an EU strategy for international cultural relations”, a document signed by the European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security, has been a milestone in this is process. To enhance this positive effect, the European Commission has invited EUNIC (European Union National Institutes for Culture) to submit a proposal for a new project.

The outcome of this cooperation has been the newly launched “European Houses of Culture”, which aims to introduce new cooperation models between the EU and third parties through culture. Walter Zampieri, Head the unit for culture policy and intercultural dialogue at the European Commission, has explained its vision on this project during an interview. According to him, since culture is a competency of member states, the contribution of national cultural institutes is key to the realization of the European Houses of Culture. More than that, a call for ideas has just been published, in order to propose innovative cultural relations projects based on a people-to-people approach, having cultural diversity at their core.

The choice of the word “house” is not accidental: it is a powerful metaphor of a solid and reliable space where contacts and exchanges take place. According to Zampieri, “Europe is a house where everybody is welcome”, and this project is the perfect way of demonstrating it.


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