29th Sep 2021

EU set to change rules on choosing its 'capitals of culture'

  • The Greek city of Patras is the European capital of culture for 2006 (Photo: European City of Culture 2006)

As part of the new rules on choosing the European capitals of culture - set to be hammered out by MEPs this week - cities will have to boost "the European dimension" of their programmes to get the Brussels' funding.

The EU has already decided on the list of countries expected to propose their cities to host the year-long series of events up till 2019, but the new legislation will influence the way they are chosen, evaluated and financed from the EU coffers.

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One of the main changes in the revised rules is a push for more competition among the cities an EU-nominated jury will choose from, as in the past governments tended to suggest only one cultural capital from their country.

Also, there will be tighter criteria on the types of events the cities should organise as European cultural capitals.

"A European dimension has been sometimes missing in the past and it should be strengthened," a European Commission official told the EUobserver.

According to Christa Prets, Austrian parliamentary rapporteur on the issue, the commission will have to make clear what this criteria means because it will influence whether a particular city can obtain financial support from the EU.

"City administrators used to get all the EU money only in the last period of their hosting the event, whereas now they will get it in the form of a special prize - right at the beginning and without all the red tape technicalities, like presenting all the receipts and so on," she said.

Brussels would like to tripple the amount to be offered to every successful candidate city up to €1.5 million but the exact figures depend on the final budgetary package for 2007 -2013 to be agreed between the key EU institutions.

Kiev versus Istanbul

The new guidelines will also confirm the rule to have two "capitals of culture" per year, from an "old" and "new" EU member state.

The tradition of non-EU countries participating in the programme will have to be given up, as three cities hosting it at the same year would be too much, both the commission and parliament argue.

"We will continue with similar monthly events but a year-long programme is very costly and hard to advertise and organise. Plus, the prominence of such an event would be naturally decreased if there were too many cultural capitals at the same time," commented Mrs Prets.

The EU has already decided that Romania's Sibiu should host the event along with Luxembourg in 2007 - Romania was chosen as a non-EU country but will probably be a part of the bloc's member states by then - and Norway's Stavanger should be the cultural capital in 2008 together with Liverpool.

But next Tuesday (11 April), an expert jury will choose the last non-EU candidate for 2010 - between Istanbul and Kiev.

"Both cities have been advertising themselves a lot and they are both trying to boost their image as European cities by their candidacy," said Mrs Prets.

"I think Kiev might have slightly more chances as Istanbul is already a well-known and active city with a lot of tourists while not many people know Kiev and that could be helpful," she said.

The jury will also confirm Hungary's Pecs and choose between Germany's Essen or Gorlitz for 2010.

The 2006 European capital of culture is the Greek city of Patras.


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