The Culture Council today agreed on a European Agenda for culture which introduces a more structured system of cooperation and concrete priorities, on the basis of the Commission's proposals presented in May 2007 .
"This is the beginning of a new era in the way the Member States, the European Commission and cultural stakeholders work together. Joining our forces, we will be better equipped to respond to some of the major challenges that the cultural sector is facing" said Mr Ján Figel', European Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth.
Indeed, the Council has endorsed three major objectives that will together form a common cultural strategy for the European Institutions, the Member States, and the cultural and creative sector:
* promotion of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue;
* promotion of culture as a catalyst for creativity in the framework of the Lisbon Strategy for growth, employment, innovation and competitiveness; and
* promotion of culture as a vital element in the Union's international relations.
The Council also endorsed the main working methods proposed by the Commission. One of the fundamental features of this new policy strategy is the introduction of a more structured system of cooperation among the Member States and the EU institutions on cultural matters. The mechanism is based on the "open method of coordination" (OMC) that has been successfully used to structure the collaboration of Member States and EU in the area of education & training, youth and social protection. The method will be applied using a flexible approach suited to the cultural field, while fully respecting Member States' competences. Progress towards the common goals will be reviewed every three years by the Commission and the Member States.
The Council underlined the importance of having a continuous dialogue with cultural stakeholders at all levels (local, regional, national and European). The European Union thus seeks to involve the cultural sector — ranging from individual artists and performers to the creative and cultural industries — more closely in European affairs, among other things through a new Cultural Forum, following the one which was organised successfully by the Portuguese Presidency in September 2007.
The Council resolution includes five specific priority areas of action for the 2008-2010 period:
* improve the conditions for the mobility of artists and other professionals in the cultural field;
* promote access to culture, especially by promoting cultural heritage, cultural tourism, multilingualism, digitisation, synergies with education (in particular arts education) and greater mobility of collections;
* develop data, statistics and methodologies in the cultural sector and improve their comparability;
* maximise the potential of cultural and creative industries, in particular that of SMEs;
* promote and implement the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.
The Commission will now work along those lines with a view to achieving tangible results in the coming three years.
For more information please see:
 See IP/07/646