What is more europe?
MORE EUROPE – external cultural relations is a cultural civil initiative, composed of a public-private partnership of foundations, civil society networks and national cultural institutes, whose objective is to highlight and reinforce the role of culture in the European Union (EU)’s external relations. It calls on Member States, civil society, private foundations and EU institutions to work together, combine their views, pool their resources and coordinate their activities in the field of external cultural relations.
Being a relatively small initiative, MORE EUROPE acts as an avant-garde on the topic – with a strong civic approach allowing flexibility and reactivity. It was launched at a high-level event in Brussels on December 8, 2011.
Modern diplomacy requires the development of new thinking and skills to face global challenges and changing societies. A new European approach towards external relations, based on the promotion of fundamental values, two-way dialogue, and the recognition of the role of civil society is urgently needed. In this regard, cultural relations, exchanges, cooperation and people-to-people engagement are crucial for the foreign policy of the EU.
Cultural relations are fundamental drivers of economic, social and sustainable human development. They play a crucial role in strengthening civil society capacities and reinforcing democratisation processes. They also support conflict prevention and reconciliation, build trust between people, and pave the way for intercultural cooperation in difficult settings. Cultural relations also foster economic development and trade in cultural goods and services.
MORE EUROPE – external cultural relations‘ main activities are:
- High-level public debates (8 debates in Berlin, Paris, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Warsaw, Brussels, and Marseilles). The debates tackle many issues such as cultural identity, culture and human rights, culture and development, the assessment of the EU cultural diplomacy, challenges and perspectives for cultural cooperation as viewed from Neighbourhood countries, cultural cities-to-cities cooperation, etc. Third-country policy-makers, cultural operators, artists and other stakeholders are always been included in the discussions.
- Active advocacy 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. For instance in March 2015, MORE EUROPE – external cultural relations organised a joint meeting of the committees for Foreign Affairs and Culture & Education of the European Parliament, which represented a first, concrete step towards the establishement of a strategic approach for a shared cultural policy engagement among EU institutions.
- Conducting research and studies, such as More Cultural Europe in The World (D. Helly, 2012), The Power of Culture in Reconciliation in the Ukraine Crisis (O. Burlyuk, 2014), or European External Cultural Relations: Paving New Ways? (G. Lisack, 2014). In June 2015, MORE EUROPE – external cultural relations produced a position paper on the cultural dimension of the European Neighbourhood Policy, in order to contribute to the public consultation ‘Towards a new European Neighbourhood Policy’ of the European Commission.
- In 2013-2014, the implementation of the Preparatory Action “Culture in EU External Relations”, commissioned by the European Parliament and launched by the European Commission. This Preparatory Action has been conducted in the 16 Neighbourhood Countries and 10 EU Strategic Partners. It has led to the report Engaging the World: Towards Global Cultural Citizenship, and to 23 country reports.
- Building a resource bank of best practices, to illustrate the role and potential of culture in advancing European foreign policy goals, going beyond traditional cultural diplomacy. See ‘Good Practices – Partners’ under Research.
The uniqueness of this project is that we are trying to respect diversity, implementing solidarity, to cooperate and to create a political experiment. I see the major role of the EU as an enabler in this process, on top of what the Member States may do, not as an entity which should capture one image, frame it and say this is European culture.Xavier Troussard