European Union

Estonia has been a member of the European Union since 2004. Membership gives Estonia both the opportunity and obligation to take part in the development of EU policies. 

Of EU policy areas, culture, the audiovisual domain, and sports are within the competence of the Ministry of Culture. There are also several other areas where other ministries have the main responsibility, but the Ministry of Culture can also have its say. Competence in a certain area means that the respective ministry is responsible for preparing the position of Estonia on an EU initiative or draft legislation and presenting and defending it in the EU. Successful participation in the EU decision-making process demands clear and precise principles and priorities which have the approval of the government. 
At the permanent representation to the EU in Brussels, the Ministry of Culture is represented by Eike Eller.

Cultural cooperation in the European Union

Unlike some of the other domains including agriculture or retail, there is no uniform cultural policy in the EU. Each member state devises their own cultural policy. When it comes to culture, the task of the EU is to promote international cooperation and to support and supplement the member states’ activities wherever necessary. In its cultural activities, the EU draws on Article 167 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. On the one hand, it underlines the importance of protecting national and regional diversity and on the other hand, preserving the union’s common cultural heritage.
The EU facilitates cultural cooperation through various programmes. Starting from the beginning of 2014, we have the opportunity to apply for the funding of international cultural cooperation through the EU’s new support programme in the area of culture, the Creative Europe Programme, which unites the formerly separate programmes “Culture”, “MEDIA” and “MEDIA Mundus”. 

In addition to the co-operation projects, the new programme provides support for the European cultural awards, the cultural capital and cultural heritage label initiations and co-operation with international organisations and third countries.
In order to protect the interests of the domain of culture, co-operation with other European Union policy areas is important. Connections with entrepreneurship, innovation, research and development, education, regional development, and tourism are of particular importance.
More information about the activities of the EU in the domain of culture and relevant EU legislation is available at


CULTURE - Article 167

(ex Article 151 TEC)

  • The Union shall contribute to the flowering of the cultures of the Member States, while respecting their national and regional diversity and at the same time bringing common cultural heritage to the fore.
  • Action by the Union shall be aimed at encouraging cooperation between Member States and, if necessary, supporting and supplementing their action in the following areas:
    • improvement of the knowledge and dissemination of the culture and history of the European peoples,
    • conservation and safeguarding of cultural heritage of European significance,
    • non-commercial cultural exchanges,
    • artistic and literary creation, including in the audiovisual sector.
  • The Union and the Member States shall foster cooperation with third countries and the competent international organisations in the sphere of culture, in particular the Council of Europe.
  • The Union shall take cultural aspects into account in its action under other provisions of the Treaties, in particular in order to respect and to promote the diversity of its cultures.
  • In order to contribute to the achievement of the objectives referred to in this Article:
    • the European Parliament and the Council acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure and after consulting the Committee of the Regions, shall adopt incentive measures, excluding any harmonisation of the laws and regulations of the Member States,
    • the Council, on a proposal from the Commission, shall adopt recommendations.

Audio visual policy and the European Union

When usually the European Union leaves the cultural matters to the hands of its Member States, the field of media (and copyright) is an exception. The European Union has a clearly expressed audio visual policy that is based on the Audiovisual Media Services Directive and is supported from the sub-programme MEDIA of the programme Creative Europe.

The European Union has regulated cross-border television broadcasting services since 1989. The rapid development of technology has increased the scope of both the traditional broadcasting services and the on-demand services, which is why the rules have been constantly updated.

The objective of the audiovisual policy of the European Union

The objective of the audiovisual policy of the European Union is to protect the common values and the cultural diversity of Europe, to promote the spread of Europe’s audiovisual media services and to regulate the cross-border broadcasting of television programmes. One of the main objectives of the European Union audiovisual policy is to promote European television and movie production. For that, rules will be imposed to ensure that most of the transmission time of the TV stations of the Member States is dedicated to productions of European origin.

Another important requirement is that at least 10 per cent of the transmission time of the TV station isshall be dedicated to the works of producers independent of the respective broadcasting organisation. In addition, norms have been agreed on for the protection of minors from the programmes containing pornography and violence, and on the principles on respect for human dignity. Furthermore, the right of reply and the rules on advertising and sponsorship have been established, mainly based on the interests of the viewers.


European Cultural Capitals

Each year, two cities are nominated cultural capitals of Europe. The title of cultural capital gives the cities an opportunity to display their culture and heritage, invigorate and promote cultural life in the city and to develop relationships with different cultural establishments. During the year in which a city is the cultural capital, a lot of different events are held in different areas of culture. Experience shows that the year as a cultural capital yields great benefits for the city’s cultural and social, as well as economic development.
See more on the web page of European Commission.


European Union Cultural Awards

Various cultural awards are given out by the EU annually: the Europa Nostra Award, a contemporary architecture award, the European Border Breakers Award, and a literary award.


European cultural heritage label

The European cultural heritage label is meant to highlight monuments symbolising Europe’s common history. The objective of this label is to underline common European values through various educational and informational activities.  The main criteria are the symbolic value of a monument for Europe and its role in European history and its progression.
See more on the European cultural heritage label at
In 2013, the first building in Estonia to receive the European cultural heritage label was the Great Guild Hall of the Estonian History Museum.




Culture Cooperation Programme

The Ministry of Culture allocates resources for the co-funding of Estonian projects participating in the European Union’s cultural cooperation programme “Culture”. 

Creative Europe Programme

Starting from the beginning of 2014, we have the opportunity to apply for the funding of international cultural cooperation through the EU’s new support programme in the area of culture, the Creative Europe Programme.
The new Creative Europe framework programme unites the formerly separate programmes “Culture”, “MEDIA” and “MEDIA Mundus”. The budget of the programme for the years 2014–2020 is EUR 1.46 billion. 
Information on and counselling for applicants to the Creative Europe Programme is provided at the programme information desks.
+372 588 56622
Loov Eesti, Veerenni 24C,
10135 Tallinn 
+372 627 60 65
Eesti Filmi Instituut, Uus tn 3,
10111 Tallinn



Heili Jõe
Adviser on European Union affairs

Phone +372 628 2228


Last updated: 6 June 2016