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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.


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 at


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.
From Estonian winners, the Seaplane Harbour Museum winning the Europa Nostra Award, i.e. the grand prix, in 2013 can be highlighted. Meelis Friedenthal, an Estonian author, was a nominee for the 2013 literature award, and the Estonian band Ewert and The Two Dragons received the pop award.
In 2010, the literature award went to Tiit Aleksejev with his book “The Pilgrimage” and the pop music award to Kerli Kõiv for her song “Love is Dead”. 


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.
Last updated: 30 June 2014