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Brussels, 5 October 2005

The European Commission proposes that 2008 be “European Year of Intercultural Dialogue”

The Commission today adopted a proposal for a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council to declare 2008 “European Year of Intercultural Dialogue”. This idea had initially been put forward by the European Commissioner with responsibility for culture, Ján Figel’, during his hearing before the European Parliament in September 2004. With an overall budget of € 10 million, the European Year will draw on the wealth and diversity of a series of specific projects to be implemented during 2008 through programmes and other Community actions. Culture, education, youth, sport and citizenship will be the main areas concerned.

When presenting this proposal, Ján Figel’, European Commissioner with responsibility for Education, Training, Culture and Multilingualism, stated: “Over the past few years, Europe has seen major changes resulting from successive enlargements of the Union, greater mobility in the Single Market, and increased travel to and trade with the rest of the world. This has resulted in interaction between Europeans and the different cultures, languages, ethnic groups and religions on the continent and elsewhere. Dialogue between cultures would therefore appear to be an essential tool in forging closer links both between European peoples themselves and between their respective cultures.”

The Commission thus proposes that 2008 be declared “Year of intercultural dialogue”, a European Year which, because of its multiplier effect, will develop into a unique instrument for raising awareness of the chosen theme among citizens, particularly young people.

Generally speaking, the European Year is expected to:

  • promote intercultural dialogue as an instrument to assist European citizens, and all those living in the European Union, in acquiring the knowledge and aptitudes to enable them to deal with a more open and more complex environment;
  • raise the awareness of European citizens, and all those living in the European Union, of the importance of developing active European citizenship which is open to the world, respectful of cultural diversity and based on common values.

Representing a unique opportunity to strengthen “mainstreaming” in all of the relevant Community programmes and actions in 2008, the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue will make it possible to raise the profile and increase the overall impact of these actions in the context of the Year. This will make it possible to promote a consistent image of the multiplicity of Community actions contributing to the intercultural dialogue while developing synergies between programmes, particularly those geared towards neighbouring countries and third countries.

The Year will also involve close cooperation between the Member States to concentrate efforts on awareness-raising and communication activities.

The Commission proposes that the European Year be allocated a budget of €10 million to fund three types of activity, which will constitute the operational objectives:

  • an information campaign promoting the objectives of the European Year – to be identified by a logo – which could account for half of the budget;
  • grants for actions at Community level, geared towards a limited number of emblematic actions on a Community scale (e.g. major festivals or sporting events) intended to raise awareness, especially among young people, of the objectives of the European Year;
  • co-financing of actions at national level with a strong European dimension.

The preparation for the Year will need to be closely coordinated with the preparations for and implementation of the European Year of Equal Opportunities for All in 2007 in order to maximise synergies and complementarity between these two initiatives.

This proposal must now be examined by the European Parliament and the Council for adoption under the co-decision procedure by the end of 2006.

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