Gottfried Wagner

Special Envoy, Austrian Ministry for Education, Arts & Culture

Gottfried Wagner

Gottfried Wagner works as advisor to More Europe, and in his main occupation as civil servant for the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, Arts and Culture as special envoy for international cultural-political projects.

Gottfried Wagner has worked for the private non profit sector and the public sector, in national and transnational organizations and institutions, in education and culture. He was director of the European Cultural Foundation from 2002 until 2009. Formerly he was director of KulturKontakt Austria, a non profit association for educational and cultural cooperation with central, eastern and south eastern Europe. He has been a member of selection committees for the European Capital of Culture scheme and various European expert groups. At present he works for the Austrian federal ministry for education, arts and culture in Vienna As director of the European Cultural Foundation ( he initiated a research and action programme on Culture in European External Relations that led to a series of conferences, publications and policy gatherings in cooperation with a long range of partners.

Based on this experience, in particular with civil society initiatives in the cultural field, and based on his contacts, and his publications (see: The Art of Difference - From Europe as a cultural project to EU Cultural Policies, Alliance Publishing Trust, London, ) members of the Steering Committee of MORE EUROPE asked his current employer, the Austrian ministry, for his input as an advisor in the process.

Gottfried Wagner believes that a coherent foreign and security policy will make the EU a ‘less strange superpower’; a coherent cultural component to external policies will make the EU even more of a ‘civilian power’. The EU is a normative power, based on fundamental rights and the respect for diversity; its model of ‘deep integration among states’ and transnational citizenship can be projected creatively into future spaces of intercultural cooperation. Europe is a cultural project, and the EU needs a coherent cultural strategy. Equipped with one, it can truly help to make the world a better place.

Europe, challenged itself in developing and safeguarding (trans-national) democracy, is about to build its joint capacities in external relations, in order to stand up to fair globalisation. Citizens expect, as polls show, a strong Europe in the world, strong vis-à-vis the major political and economic global players, powerful to pursue its interests and values. Yet, engaged citizens want to see a global European policy based on the experience of the peaceful integration process in Europe, the values of (i.a.) human rights and cultural diversity, democracy and intercultural dialogue and a peacefully negotiated mix of competition and cooperation. In short: they subscribe to the concept of smart, civilian power.

According to Gottfried, the overall objective of MORE EUROPE is to help to structurally establish culture in European, and more precisely in EU external affairs – in impact-rich and adequate (culture-specific, ‘enlightened’) ways. Such a policy will build on one of Europe’s richest assets (diversity); it will complement member states’ policies and ptractices; and it will enable cohesion and visibility. For reaching this objective, several goals need to be met: strategy, structures, adequate to culture and arts, and resources in order to be effective: structures in the pan-European dialogue with the international world, and structures within the EU’s institutions (European External Action Service – EEAS – in close cooperation with the ‘expert-DG’ Education and Culture – DG EaC); structures that are inspired by national and civic experience: culture needs best possible policy frameworks - and freedom in order to be credible and effective: culture policies ‘at arms’ length’!

[External Cultural Relations] is about modest, humble attitude, not so much about diplomacy even in the modern form, but about cultural relations, about a new habit of listening.

Classical diplomacy is not the answer to the challenges in offering a different image of Europe in the world.