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This content is taken from the European University Institute (EUI) & Global Governance Programme's online course, Cultures and Identities in Europe. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 11 seconds We have seen how, starting from the 1970s, cultural industries have become part of policies in national and international levels. In the European Union, important sets of policies have been developed around the cultural and creative industries. Along these policies, older cultural industries have gone from being the preserve of the elite to mass market global industries while new industries have emerged. What is interesting is that part of these EU policies have centred around the making of “European identity” as a target of cultural intervention in itself. Let’s see how. The EU cultural actions have three important goals. The first is to promote multilevel cooperation among member states in the cultural field. The second is to build and promote a European identity.

Skip to 1 minute and 7 seconds And third– enhance the artistic promotion and economic development of the cultural sector. The first programme in this direction is the People’s Europe, proposed by the Director-General for Culture, which was established in 1985. The aim of this programme was to bring the peoples of the continent closer within the European community by promoting and raising awareness of its symbols– like the flag, the passport, and the anthem, and its political premises. Following this line of thinking, diverse projects were later developed.

Skip to 1 minute and 44 seconds For example, the Erasmus exchange programme for the creation of culture and knowledge networks among European University students; the European City of Culture programme, that selects annually a city to promote European and local identities; the network of European National Institutes for Culture, with the mission to promote European values and to contribute to the cultural diversity inside and outside of the EU; the Media Programme, for the development of audiovisual and new technologies in Europe through training, subsidies, or logistics support. The Media Programme, which ended in 2013, evolved into the current Creative Europe Programme that will last until 2020. The EU has also launched diverse cultural diplomacy initiatives, mainly in the field of cultural industry regulation.

Skip to 2 minutes and 37 seconds The EU promotes what is called the European Idea along with the UNESCO convention on the protection and promotion of cultural diversity. More recently, the Horizon2020, called for projects on cultural diplomacy, reaffirmed the need to transform European action abroad under the auspices of an effective and coherent EU cultural and science diplomacy. On the one hand, scholars have emphasised how these supranational cultural actions have contributed to the intellectual and artistic dissemination of European cultural diversity– stimulating creativity, intercultural exchange, and heritage preservation. On the other hand, the lack of a better coordination in the EU cultural policy and the absence of a clear legal framework have been criticised because of their negative impact on minority languages and existing diversities.

“European culture” as a brand

This video explains the main goals of the EU cultural action: to promote cooperation in the cultural field among member states, to build a European identity and to foster artistic production.

Various programs were set up like Peoples Europe, in 1985, which developed European symbols such as the anthem and the flag. Other key programs are mentioned, such as the European capital of culture, the Erasmus program, or the Media program.

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Do you think that European symbols such as the flag and the anthem are now well-known to Europeans and outside of Europe?

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This video is from the free online course:

Cultures and Identities in Europe

European University Institute (EUI)