In 2019, we choose a Europe that promotes peace and integration values through culture. The new European Parliament will have the opportunity, if it grasps it, to give a new impetus for an even more integrated and open European Union.

The year 2019 marks a turning point in European politics and policies. A major reshuffle is about to occur in EU institutions: a new European Parliament will be elected (23-26 May), a new College of Commissioners will be appointed (1st November), and a new president will take over the European Council (1st December). With the UK leaving the EU on 31 October, the EU will resize to 27 members States. In addition, Europe is witnessing the rise of populism, nationalism and intolerance, a threat to European and international values.

Since its inception, MORE EUROPE – external cultural relations, actively advocated for a strategic and more comprehensive approach to culture in the EU foreign policy, both at bilateral and multilateral levels, including cultural sensitiveness, intercultural dialogue, and an innovative approach to cultural diplomacy. Its advocacy and policy work at EU level has contributed to strong cultural policy engagements by EU institutions. MORE EUROPE – external cultural relations, was notably associated in drafting the Preparatory Action for Culture in External Relations (2013-2014) which lead to the adoption of the Joint Communication ‘Towards an EU strategy for International Cultural Relations’, in 2016.

Culture plays a key role in the transition to more democratic societies in the EU Neighbourhood, not only in intercultural relations but also in human, social and economic development

Culture engages people to exchange views. It can create a sense of mutual understanding to foster stabilization among societies, countering extremist ideologies and disinformation which often flourish through ignorance.

The principles of democracy, human rights and governance can also be reinforced through artistic creation and cultural expressions to raise awareness about their promotion. Culture underpins the EU political priorities, with links to other EU cooperation areas (economic development, education, social cohesion, democracy etc.), while being a facilitator of positive results. It gives opportunities to young people and future generations to express themselves, to build-up their skills and it fosters social integration.

The variety of EU support to the cultural sector is evident by the many EU-funded projects, from grants to capacity training, which touch on all aspects from art and cultural education to economic development through culture and creative industries. These actions bring tangible benefits and should not be pushed in the background.

In a time of democratic backsliding, we must redouble our efforts in order to strengthen international cultural relations, support culture as an engine for sustainable social and economic development, promote culture and intercultural dialogue for peaceful inter-community relations and strengthen people-to-people relations.

Europe should not be a fortress!