On 8 April 2019 the Council of the EU adopted conclusions on an EU strategic approach to international cultural relations that propose a concrete framework for action requiring a well-coordinated, cross-sectorial and inclusive approach by the EU institutions and Member States including the network of EUNIC.
Prepared as a joint and inclusive effort over the course of several sessions of the Cultural Affairs Committee, the committee of representatives from Member States working in the field of culture, the Council Conclusions emphasise the need for a cross-institutional, cross-cutting and inclusive approach to culture abroad. The Conclusions were adopted by the Foreign Affairs Council and invite Member States, the European Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) to increase their coordination and to develop common strategic engagement to foster international cultural relations by calling them to “put particular effort into the implementation of common projects and joint actions in third countries based on a common strategic vision developed at local level by the Member States, their diplomatic and consular representations, their cultural institutes, EUNIC, EU delegations and local stakeholders; adequate frameworks and instruments should be developed for that purpose.”
The Council Conclusions encourage further awareness raising on the respective roles and mutual expectations of Member States and EU Institutions. It calls the EU institutions to “embed the principles and objectives of this strategic approach and strengthen collaboration with relevant Council bodies in the design and implementation of existing and future thematic and geographic framework” and “designate cultural focal points and ensure adequate capacities for culture in EU delegations." In parallel, the Conclusions call for a mutual and adequate response from Member States by inviting them to “strengthen their participation in the preparation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of common local cultural strategies and projects in third countries. EUNIC and the cooperation between diplomatic and consular representations could contribute to the achievement of this objective.”
EUNIC welcomes the Conclusions as they are an important step to steering international cultural relations to the forefront of EU policy by integrating them into its foreign relations instruments and processes.
Augustin Favereau, EUNIC President and head of the Culture and Media Department at the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, stated: “This is an important milestone for international cultural relations and we are delighted that EUNIC has been given the trust to help prepare, implement and monitor and evaluate projects which will be taking place in third countries along with EU delegations and – most importantly – our partners on the ground. EUNIC has been working along these lines in the past years, and these Conclusions are a clear steer to continue in a joint effort with all actors involved.”