Cultural Deal for Europe
13 Nov 2020
There is no recovery or future for Europe without culture. Europe needs a new Cultural Deal, a transversal, overarching framework that demonstrates the EU’s political commitment to place culture at the heart of the European project.
The Cultural Deal was launched in November 2020 when COVID-19 was devastating Europe’s cultural sectors. We called on the European Union to fully integrate culture and cultural heritage into its actions and policies, making it an overarching strategy in analogy to the Green Deal. We call for including culture in the EU’s recovery and funding programmes, its sustainable development strategies, its relations with the rest of the world, and more.
On this page you will find an overview of the Cultural Deal for Europe campaign, including videos of the Annual Policy Conversations, open letters and opinion pieces.
The Cultural Deal for Europe is open to public endorsement, please support the campaign here.
Culture is what brings us together. It is at the basis of the European project and determines the future of our societies. The gravity of the Covid-19 crisis proved again that culture is not a luxury, but a necessity to build cohesive, equal, sustainable and free societies. A Cultural Deal for Europe is a call from a wider European cultural community to acknowledge the pivotal role of culture in shaping the future of our lives.
The European Cultural Foundation, Culture Action Europe and Europa Nostra (also in its capacity as coordinator of the European Cultural Alliance) jointly proposed the Cultural Deal for Europe framework. This overarching strategy aims at placing culture at the center of the European project and mainstreaming it across all policy fields: from the green transition to Europe’s geopolitical ambition and from the digital shift to a value-driven Union. It focuses on both facilitating the contribution of culture to Europe’s sustainable development and providing the sector with the credibility and resources for realising its full potential. By bundling together both short and long term objectives, Cultural Deal for Europe is envisioned as a roadmap towards a more balanced, more comprehensive, and more inclusive European development model.
Open letter ahead of the European Parliament elections
In October 2023 the three initiating organisations published an open letter ahead of the June 2024 European Parliament elections, calling for culture to be prominently featured in the 2024 electoral campaigns: in political groups’ programmes and in public conversations with Europeans about the future of our continent.
The letter – which you can download and share with your MEP’s or candidates in the 2024 European Parliament elections – asks:
We have created a union of states and institutions. We still need to craft a union of values and people. It is culture that brings us together as Europeans, igniting the hearts and fuelling the minds of citizens. Without culture, the very future of Europe is under threat.
Can we count on YOU to help us place culture at the heart of Europe?
European Cultural Deal for Ukraine
Europe needs Ukraine as Ukraine needs Europe. The recovery and future of Ukraine in the EU cannot be envisaged without culture playing its full role. This needs the determination and commitment of Ukraine to embed culture in its recovery, reconstruction and modernisation strategy.
We urgently call on the EU to include Ukraine’s cultural, cultural heritage and creative sectors in EU relief packages for Ukraine and the Ukraine Facility (2024-2027).
Everything Everywhere All at Once: Culture for the Future
ECF’s Head of Public Policy, Isabelle Schwarz, contributed an article to the October 2023 edition of Parliament Magazine:
“As we head to the next set of European Parliament elections, the world’s second largest democratic exercise, we must ask ourselves: What kind of Europe do I want? What difference can I make? What can be done together, regardless of personal and political ambitions to build a better, less frightening, and more sustainable future?”
“Culture is not the answer for solving everything, everywhere, all at once. But none of Europe’s big issues can be critically addressed without culture.”
Culture is the new energy for Europe - Annual Policy Conversation 2023
On February 28 2023, members of the European Parliament representing various political groups publicly discussed our eight proposals to put culture centre stage in EU’s policies at the Annual Policy Conversation.
The event was moderated by Katy Lee (journalist, the Europeans podcast) and brought the following MEPs on stage: Alexis Georgoulis (The Left), Marcos Ros Sempere (S&D), Sabine Verheyen (EPP), also in her function as Chair of the CULT Committee.
The keynote was delivered by Margaritis Schinas, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Promotion of the European Way of Life.
Stand up poet Amber Setta concluded the afternoon.
Recap of the Annual Policy Conversation 2023.
The Annual Policy Conversations have established themselves as an important annual rendez-vous for people across Europe, bringing together the cultural ecosystem and policymakers together to engage in a crucial dialogue on future-proof cultural policies for the EU and for the continent at large.
Full video of the Annual Policy Conversation 2023.
Culture is the new energy for Europe. The European Parliament elections in 2024 are approaching, preceded in 2023 by the mid-term review of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), which might add extra resources to the EU’s budget for the second half of the financial cycle to tackle the era of polycrisis. Culture needs to be at the core of both debates and strategically associated in the collective effort ahead of the major democratic exercise in Europe.
Cultural Deal for Europe - full 2023 statement
In 2023 we published a booklet in which we look back at the achievements after two years since the launch of the campaign. It shows many issues we campaign for found a place in the new EU Council Work Plan for Culture 2023 -2026.
But above all we take stock of what still needs to be done.
'Make culture central in the EU’s green and sustainable future' - Annual Policy Conversation 2022
This event focused on the contribution of culture and cultural heritage to Europe’s recovery, and to its green, more sustainable and inclusive future through the European Green Deal, the Conference on the Future of Europe and the New European Bauhaus, of which the three hosting organisations are official partners. The aim of this policy conversation was to inspire and engage the wider European community of artists, cultural workers, creative industries and heritage stakeholders in building a future that is more resilient and sustainable for Europe and its citizens.
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, sent a video message, thanking all artists and creators who brought light into the dark days of the pandemic through their books, films, music, or video games. “You artists were hit first and longest, but you gave us so much. Now Europe stands ready to help you.”
The pandemic has severely affected the cultural ecosystem with losses up to 90 percent compared with its previous, pre-pandemic turnover. For Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Culture, imminent action is needed. “Current situation left artists, creators and cultural professionals unprotected and more fragile than ever before”.
You can watch recaps of the event in the video playlist below.
Cultural Deal for Europe: Opening session
Welcome by moderator Tamsin Rose (Friends of Europe), paying tribute to the late EP President David Sassoli as a Cultural Deal ally. Two years later: Update & State of play of the Cultural Deal for Europe Opening video message by the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen. Keynote speech by Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth
Cultural Deal for Europe: Culture for Recovery & Sustainability in Europe
Moderated discussion with Tere Badia, Secretary-General of Culture Action Europe, Elena Polivtseva, Head of Policy and Research, IETM and Inês Câmara, Co-founder and director of Mapa das Ideias. With contributions from the representatives of the French Permanent Representation to the EU, the Czech Permanent Representation to the EU and MEP Monica Semedo, Renew Europe.
Cultural Deal for Europe: Culture and Cultural Heritage in the European Green Deal
Moderated discussion with Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailovic, Secretary-General of Europa Nostra, MEP Salima Yenbou, Greens/EFA, and Jordi Pascual, Coordinator of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) Committee on Culture. With contributions from MEP Marcos Ros Sempere, S&D, Ruth Reichstein, Member of I.D.E.A. Advisory Board to the European Commission President on European Green Deal and New European Bauhaus, MEP Iskra Mihaylova, Renew Europe, and Kieran McCarthy, Member of the European Committee of the Regions.
Cultural Deal for Europe: Culture for the Future of Europe
“To make the silos dance. Mainstreaming culture into EU policy” – presentation of the paper by Gijs de Vries, Senior visiting fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) Moderated discussion with André Wilkens, Director of the European Cultural Foundation, Gijs de Vries (LSE) and Viviane Hoffmann, Deputy Director-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture (DG EAC) of the European Commission. With contributions from Lucia Recalde, Deputy Director and Head of Unit for Audiovisual, Industry and Media Support Programmes, Directorate-General for Communications, Networks, Content and Technology (DG CNECT) of the European Commission, and Matteo Bagnasco, Fondazione Compagnia di San Paolo, member and former Co-Chair of European Foundation Centre’s Arts and Culture Thematic Network.
Cultural Deal for Europe: Closing remarks
To make the silos dance - December 2021
To make the silos dance is a paper written by Gijs de Vries, commissioned by ECF as contribution to the Cultural Deal for Europe. Gijs de Vries is a Senior Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) where his areas of research include international cultural relations. In 2018-2020 he was an external expert in the German Foreign Ministry’s Reflection Group on Germany’s future strategy for international cultural cooperation (AKBP) and in the European Union’s Voices of Culture initiative on culture and the Sustainable Development Goals.
As the author writes in his introduction: “There are three main reasons why culture matters to Europe and why it should figure more prominently in EU policy. Culture matters intrinsically; it is central to a life worth living. Culture also matters as a central component of our societies and economies. Finally, culture matters existentially, as a principal but vulnerable dimension of our common identity as Europeans.”
“The cultural and creative sectors have long argued that the EU needs to adopt a horizontal, holistic view of culture”, de Vries writes. “My paper is intended to offer concrete suggestions about how this mainstreaming can be achieved in practice.”
The paper reflects his personal views. De Vries: “It is definitely not the final word on the subject, on the contrary. I intend it to be an open invitation to a wider conversation, both among policy-makers and among cultural experts. Together we are stronger; with luck and some perseverance I am optimistic that we will succeed in making Europe’s policy silos dance!”
'The Netherlands starts becoming a cultural outsider in Europe' - October 2021
In an opinion piece in Dutch daily Trouw European Cultural Foundation director André Wilkens claims there can be no recovery after the pandemic without respect for culture and the role of the artist. That 2% of the European Recovery Fund should be allocated to culture – as intended by the European Parliament – could be the start of a creative healing process, at the heart of Europe’s transformation. The Netherlands must not be left out.
Paradiso debate 2021 - August 2021
In the run up to the Dutch Paradisodebat on the post-pandemic future of the Dutch cultural and creative sectors various Dutch prominent opinion leaders spoke out in favour of the Cultural Deal campaign, urging the Dutch government to dedicate at least two percent of the RFF funds to culture. The open letter is an initiative by the Dutch Europa-platform and is open for endorsement. With financial aid from the national rescue packages stopping per October, the sector needs your support now.
A central place for culture in the EU’s post-pandemic future - Annual Policy Conversation 2020
With opening remarks by European Commissioner Mariya Gabriel and the European Parliament CULT Chair Sabine Verheyen, the Annual Policy Conversation took place online on 18 November 2020. It was organised by the three Cultural Deal for Europe campaign initiators: Culture Action Europe (CAE), European Cultural Foundation, and Europa Nostra, founder and coordinator of the European Heritage Alliance.
The online debate reflected on critical questions about the role of culture for Europe’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and, more widely, for the future of Europe, involving the European Commissioner in charge of Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Mariya Gabriel, the European Parliament CULT Committee Chair Sabine Verheyen, the French Secretary of State for European Affairs Clément Beaune, as well as other MEPs, representatives of Member States and of other European institutions, as well as a broad range of stakeholders and civil society actors. A video contribution by the President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli opened the meeting, and the conclusions were made by the President of the Committee of the Regions Apostolos Tzitzikostas. The debate was moderated by Dharmendra Kanani (Friends of Europe). Visual storytelling was provided by the artist Menah (Marleen Wellen).
Chapter 1: “Culture as a driving force for Europe’s recovery”
Introduced by Tere Badia, Secretary-General of Culture Action Europe, in conversation with the EP CULT Committee Chair Sabine Verheyen.
Chapter 2: “Philanthropy as a contributor to the Cultural Deal for Europe”
Introduced by André Wilkens, Director of the European Cultural Foundation, in conversation with the EU Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Mariya Gabriel.
Chapter 3: “Culture and cultural heritage for the Future of Europe”
Introduced by Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailovic, Secretary-General of Europa Nostra, featuring a video message from the French Secretary of State for European Affairs Clément Beaune. In conversation with Luca Jahier, former president of the EESC and Guilherme d’Oliviera Martins, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. Reaction from Apostolos Tzitzikostas, President of the Committee of the Regions.
Concluding words from EP CULT Committee Chair Sabine Verheyen
And closing remarks by Secretary-General of Culture Action Europe Tere Badia, Director of the European Cultural Foundation André Wilkens and Secretary-General of Europa Nostra Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailovic.