October 26, 2023, Brussels. Under the theme “The current challenges and needs of European cultural cooperation and cultural diplomacy: where do we go from here?” on Wednesday, October 25, 2023, an exchange of ideas was held at the SPINELLI 5G305 Room of the European Parliament in Brussels. This event was organized by MEP Ibán García del Blanco and the Finnova Foundation.
During the event, multiple representatives from the European Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education, as well as experts in the field of cultural management, gathered.
A discussion moderated by Ibán García del Blanco, MEP from the Committee on Culture and Education (CULT)
The conversation was introduced by MEP García del Blanco, who emphasized the crucial role of culture, creativity, and artists in international relations, as well as in forming alliances and promoting peace agreements to prevent conflicts between countries. The MEP stressed that cultural diplomacy, with its capacity to have a global impact, should “include civil society and artists.” The reason is implicit: “creators can act as de facto ambassadors, underscoring the need to develop information, training, and mobility systems that influence the development of the sector in coordination with diplomatic entities,” he emphasized.
European diplomacy: the role of culture in European foreign policy, the multiplicity of actors, projects and programmes of European cultural cooperation and diplomacy.
In the first thematic panel, led by Salima Yenbou, MEP from the Committee on Culture and Education of the European Parliament, the conclusions of her most recent report were presented.
Yenbou highlighted that culture plays a fundamental role in allowing us to understand and celebrate diversity “both within and outside our borders.” A comprehensive political approach to strengthen international presence involves protecting cultural heritage against illegal trafficking and promoting the international dimension of culture. According to her, this requires effective intercultural communication and the protection of the intrinsic value of culture. In this context, there is a need for a “transformation of international cooperation relations, especially in the case of Europe towards Africa, where culture can play a prominent role,” the Euro-MP affirmed.
The MEP also emphasized the importance of adopting a “humanistic, humanitarian, and diplomatic” perspective on culture, promoting messages of peace, and ensuring freedom of artistic expression. Examples such as the recent European Parliament Film Awards demonstrate that this is not only an effective way to export European values but also to co-create and redefine them.
In conclusion, she highlighted the need to distinguish between traditional diplomacy and cultural relations at the international level. She also mentioned the idea of a pilot training project in culture and cultural diplomacy to boost participation in this field.
The UN 2030 Agenda: the power of culture in the face of contemporary challenges and sustainable artistic practices, youth, and examples of sustainable innovative actions in the field of creative and cultural industries, cultural cooperation, and cultural tourism
Juanma Revuelta, Executive Director of Finnova Foundation, addressed the various opportunities for European funding available to promote cultural innovation projects. He emphasized European programs specialized in this area, such as Creative Europe and Horizon Europe, which are strengthening their collaborations with the United Nations to achieve shared goals in this area.
Pablo Barrios Martínez, EU Project Officer of Finnova Foundation, highlighted the impact of culture in shaping more free, inclusive, and creative societies in line with European values. He also emphasized the role played by Finnova Foundation in promoting young talent and innovation. Moreover, he underscored the urgent need to increase investments in education and skills development to foster entrepreneurial spirit in this field.
To conclude, Mark Raemaekers, Senior Advisor of The Diplomatic World, presented The Phoenix Village Project as an example of how current market trends can be integrated with citizens’ needs from a perspective of creative innovation.
The next steps in the implementation of the EU Strategy for International Relations and its near future
In the third and final thematic panel, Gaia Danese, Policy Officer in Cultural Diplomacy at the European External Action Service (EEAS), emphasized the importance of the European Union adding value and seeking parliamentary involvement. Addressing the issue of academic diplomacy, she suggested the implementation of strategic training for ambassadors in this field, considering security standards.
Danese stressed the importance of freedom of expression, freedom of creation, and freedom of movement as universal values and rights shared globally. She also highlighted existing agreements with UNESCO and the need to effectively address propaganda.
Where are we heading?
Amidst a global crisis and the war in Ukraine, the European Commission, the European Parliament, and cultural entities continue to discuss the role of culture, creative industries, and cultural tourism in European international relations. Two key changes affect Europe: the need to reevaluate its cultural heritage in a context of decolonization of thought and the adaptation of the New European Bauhaus (NEB) to current values, in line with the fight against climate change.
After more than 15 years of the “European Agenda for Culture in a Globalizing World,” it is essential to assess and reflect on its progress, status, and its contribution to sustainable development by 2030.
The debate explored the current state of European cultural diplomacy, its roadmap, and how to use existing strategic resources to better coordinate the actions of public administrations abroad and avoid redundancy of functions. This exchange of ideas has provided insight into the challenges of European cultural diplomacy and cooperation and has laid the foundation for administrative, institutional, and diplomatic innovation.
What will be the next steps in the joint path of European Institutions and Member States to advance the implementation of the New Agenda for Culture and international relations?
Finnova Foundation continues to closely monitor institutional debates in this area and provides support to European cultural industries and the promotion of sustainable transition through projects like CulturalDeTour and initiatives like the international photography competition Art4Forest. We invite you to follow us to stay informed about our upcoming projects related to the promotion of cultural innovation.
About Finnova Foundation
Finnova is a foundation that works for the promotion and development of innovation and entrepreneurship at the EU level. Based in Brussels, it operates through collaborations and partnerships in all EU countries. Finnova’s experience in leading communication and project dissemination activities at the European level is combined with a proven track record in creating businesses and supporting business programs, such as accelerators, incubators, and event selection and awarding.