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Brussels, 22 March 2010

EU celebrates 25th anniversary of European Capitals of Culture

On 23-24 March, the European Commission will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the European Capitals of Culture with a conference and exhibition in Brussels attended by more than 400 representatives of past, present and future Capitals and many other cultural operators. President José Manuel Barroso and Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou will open the event, together with Doris Pack, chair of the Culture Committee of the European Parliament. The conference is aimed at sharing experiences and good practices as well as assessing the impact of the European Capitals of Culture since its launch in 1985.

President Barroso said: "This initiative is a clear illustration of the EU's commitment to cultural diversity and also how culture can unite people within Europe. I would like to thank all the cities which have put Europe to the fore during their year as Capitals and I wish the European Capitals of Culture every success for the next 25 years."

Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, commented: "The 25th anniversary will be an opportunity to reflect on the enormous success of the European Capitals of Culture as a driving force for creativity, job creation, social inclusion, regeneration and tourism. It is one of the most recognised cultural events in Europe and I am confident that it will continue to represent the best of Europe in the 25 years to come."

The first day of the conference is dedicated to the official celebration, as well as to an exchange of views between past, present and future Capitals. The second day will have a more strategic dimension and will look at the impact and legacy of the initiative.

Since the first European Capital of Culture held in Athens in 1985, over 40 cities from all over Europe have held the title. This year’s Capitals of Culture are Essen for the Ruhr (Germany), Pécs (Hungary), and Istanbul (Turkey).

The main goals of the European Capitals of Culture project are:

  • Highlighting the wealth and diversity of European cultures;

  • Promoting mutual understanding between European citizens;

  • Encouraging a sense of belonging to the same European family by making us aware of our common European roots and our shared ambitions for the future.

The European Capitals of Culture are also a unique opportunity to regenerate cities in the long-term, by giving new vitality to their cultural life, their creative industries and transforming their image.

The late Melina Mercouri, the former Minister of Culture for Greece and celebrated actress, conceived the idea of the European Capital of Culture with Jack Lang, her counterpart in France. (See full list of capitals below).

To know more:

About the celebration

About the European Capitals of Culture

See also MEMO/10/93.

ANNEX: European Capitals of Culture, 1985-2011

1985 : Athens (Greece)

1986 : Florence (Italy)

1987 : Amsterdam (Netherlands)

1988 : Berlin (Germany)

1989: Paris (France)

1990 : Glasgow (United Kingdom)

1991 : Dublin (Ireland)

1992 : Madrid (Spain)

1993 : Antwerp (Belgium)

1994: Lisbon (Portugal)

1995 : Luxembourg (Luxembourg)

1996 : Copenhagen (Denmark)

1997 Thessaloniki (Greece)

1998: Stockholm (Sweden)

1999: Weimar (Germany)

2000 : Bergen (Norway), Bologna (Italy), Brussels (Belgium), Helsinki (Finland), Kraków (Poland), Prague (Czech Republic), Reykjavík (Iceland), Santiago de Compostela (Spain)

2001: Rotterdam (Netherlands) and Porto (Portugal)

2002 : Bruges (Belgium) and Salamanca (Spain)

2003 : Graz (Austria)

2004 : Genoa (Italy) and Lille (France)

2005 : Cork (Ireland)

2006 : Patras (Greece)

2007 : Sibiu (Romania) and Luxembourg (Luxembourg)

2008 : Liverpool (United Kingdom) and Stavanger (Norway)

2009 : Vilnius (Lithuania) and Linz (Austria)

2010 : Istanbul (Turkey), Essen for the Ruhr (Germany) and Pécs (Hungary)

2011 : Turku (Finland) and Tallinn (Estonia)

2010 : Guimarães (Portugal) and Maribor (Slovenia)

2011 : Marseille (France) and Košice (Slovakia)

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