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Brussels, 30 May 2005

European Capitals of Culture: Commission proposes a new selection process

The European Commission adopted today a proposal for a new process to select European Capitals of Culture. When in place, the new regulation will strengthen the competitive element of the selection process, increase the role of the selection panel, introduce a monitoring phase, make the selection criteria clearer, and increase the emphasis on a European dimension.

“Over the last 20 years, the European Capital of Culture has become one of the European Union’s most successful and popular actions.” said Ján Figel’, Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture, and Multilingualism, because it gives cities a period of one year during which they are given a chance to showcase their cultural life and cultural development. It has a strong track record in creating jobs, generating new investment and boosting cultural tourism. The new rules represent a balanced compromise between the interests of Member States in the Capital of Culture and the need to have a strong European dimension. The changes proposed will make the selection process more rigorous, more transparent, and better equipped to cater for the ever increasing numbers of culturally vibrant cities vying to be the European Capital of Culture each year."

During the debate concerning the modification of the current decision which aimed at integrating the Member States which joined the EU in May 2004, the European Parliament expressed concerns about the current selection process, pointing out a number of weaknesses, in particular with regard to the “European dimension” of the action. In its proposal, the Commission encourages Member States to organise competition at national level between interested cities. To manage this competition it proposes to implement a “mixed” selection panel consisting of experts designated by the European institutions and by the Member States concerned. This selection process, organised in 2 stages, would start 6 years before the event is due to begin and would end when the Council designates the European Capitals of Culture for a given year around 4 years before the event.

The Commission also proposes establishing a “European monitoring panel” composed of the experts designated by the European institutions, for the period after the designation of the European Capitals of Culture until the start of the event. It would provide cities with support and guidance in further elaborating their programme, focusing on the European dimension of the programme and contributing, wherever necessary, to ensuring the European added-value of the programme.

Furthermore, the Commission’s proposal defines the criteria that the action has to comply with, highlighting the European added value.

The European Commission will award a prize to the designated city if the preparation phase of the programme meets the objectives and the criteria of the action, particularly concerning the European dimension. This would be paid via the framework programme for Culture (Culture 2007 from 2007) as is the case with current grants to the European Capitals of Culture. At this stage, the Commission’s proposal for the Culture 2007 programme would allow up to a tripling of the Community financial contribution to each individual European Capital of Culture.

The current chronological list of “twin” Members States entitled to propose cities to the title for the period 2009-2019 will remain unchanged [1].

The proposal would enter into force as of 2007. This means that the first European Capitals of Culture to be designated by the new process will stage the event in 2013 (cities will be located in France and Slovakia). Nevertheless, the cities designated as European Capitals of Culture for 2010, 2011 and 2012 will undergo the monitoring process.

For more information:

[1] See IP 05/206

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