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The European Union on Culture in External Relations

The Conference on Preparatory Action, entitled ‘‘Culture in the European Union’s External Relations,’’ was held in Brussels (BOZAR) on April 7 and 8, 2014.
This Conference offered an opportunity to present the first results of a study conducted since January 2013 and give some concrete examples of the attention being paid by the European Commission at a time when a European external relations affairs strategy is in the making. The Conference had been organized in such a way as to leave as much room as possible for discussion.
The opening of the Conference was ensured by Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner in charge of Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Morten Løkkegaard, Member of the European Parliament, Vice President of the Culture and Education Commission, Pierre Vimont, Executive Secretary General of the European External Action Service.
The full Conference program can be viewed on the Preparatory Action website.
Preparatory Action “Culture in the EU’s External Relations” is an initiative funded by the European Union. It is implemented by the European Commission (Directorate General for Education and Culture), with the support of a Consortium of eight cultural institutes – including the Institut français – and organizations.
This Preparatory Action had been initiated by the European Parliament in accordance with its Resolution on the cultural dimension of EU external action, which had called for the development of a visible common EU strategy on culture in the EU external relations.
It also aimed to open up a public discussion on the role of culture in the European Union’s external relations so as to draw up recommendations of use for the European Commission and Parliament.
Preparatory Action had been implemented throughout 2013. It consisted in several stages:
  • February-May 2013 – Mapping phase with the help of the networks of the National European Cultural Centers and EUNIC, the Consortium’s associate partner.
Objectives: making an assessment of existing resources, approaches and strategies related to culture implemented by Member States and by some EU partner countries in their external relations policy.
  • June-October 2013 – Consultation phase with the help of the networks of the National European Cultural Centers and EUNIC, the consortium’s associate partner.
  • Objectives: bringing together opinions, desires, viewpoints of the stakeholders by focusing on some strategic third party countries for the EU, their perceptions and expectations with regard to the European Union
  • November-December 2013 – Writing up the first phase of the study (by a group of independent experts, associated with the consortium)
  • The final study
The study covered, beyond Member States, the following partner countries of the European Union:
  • Neighboring countries of the EU: Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Moldavia, Occupied Palestinian Territory, Syria, Tunisia, Ukraine
  • 10 strategic partners of the EU: South Africa, Brazil, Canada, China, South Korea, United States of America, India, Japan, Mexico, Russia.
The purpose of Preparatory Action was to support an ongoing process of research, exchange of knowledge and public debate on the role of culture in the EU’s external relations.
The Institut français’ participation in this study has enabled the French Cultural Network abroad (Instituts français and Alliances françaises) to be associated with the different consultations conducted abroad as well as to reaffirm its conviction with regard to the decisive role of culture in the development of external relations. It thus confirms that the Institut français is meant to be a resolutely European cultural player.
The first results of the study can be viewed on the dedicated website.
Consortium Members
British Council
Goethe Institut
Danish Cultural Institute
European Cultural Foundation
IFA Institut fur Auslandsbeziehungen
KEA European Affairs
BOZAR, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels
Independent Experts 
Prof. Yudhishthir Raj Isar (Team Leader/Scientific Manager)
Rod Fisher
Damien Helly
Associated Partner
EUNIC Global
For further information