European capitals of culture
Initiative to continue until 2033
By Ophélie Spanneut | Friday 20 July 2012
The ‘European capital of culture’ initiative, initially set to run until 2019, will now continue until 2033 under a proposal adopted by the European Commission, on 20 July.
The initiative, which dates back to 1985, aims to promote the richness and diversity of European cultures. In 2012, the holders of the title of European capital of culture were the towns of Guimaraes, Portugal, and Maribor, Slovenia. Every year, two towns from two different member states are selected; the Council of Ministers is authorised to select these towns.
The selection criteria have been modified in the proposal in order to give more precise guidelines to potential capitals. Greater importance will be given to the capacity to stimulate growth and long-term urban development, as well as to the European dimension, and the quality of the cultural and artistic events organised during the year. The Commission has also introduced a new measure, according to which candidate countries for EU accession will be able to apply every three years, alongside the two towns from the EU.
“The European capitals of culture initiative [...] has been a catalyst for the transformation of cities, to the benefit of citizens and visitors alike. The competition in member states to host the title is tougher than ever – and this is proof of its enduring value and appeal,” said Androulla Vassiliou, commissioner for education and culture.
The appeal of the initiative was confirmed by a public consultation carried out by the Commission, since 91% of respondents said they were in favour of continuing the initiative. The most tangible impact for cities is “a better international profile and image for the city,” respondents agreed.