The European Union's Multi-Level Cultural Diplomacy vis-à-vis the United States of America
This paper examines how, to what extent and why the EU engages in cultural diplomacy vis-à-vis the US. While providing an empirical review of and conceptual reflection on the current state of the EU’s (including key member states’) efforts at employing cultural diplomacy vis-à-vis the US, the paper also strives to explain the forms of this activity. It argues that a multi-level EU cultural diplomacy in the US does exist, but that its potential is currently underused. As could be expected, the EU Delegation to the US seems to be most willing to pursue EU cultural diplomacy, whereas the extent of EU cultural diplomacy at the level of coordinated activities between the EU and the member states, as well as at the member state level remains low. This finding can be explained primarily with a latent competition between member states. While the general motivation to engage in cultural diplomacy can be interest- or value-driven – and is in the case of EU cultural diplomacy vis-à-vis the US arguably both –, it is undeniable that, in a country like the US, the interest-driven soft power competition that is often a key incentive for actors to engage in cultural diplomacy activities at all plays out negatively inside the EU. These findings are corroborated by a brief discussion of the potential acceptance of EU cultural action in the US, which highlights how, despite positive perceptions of European culture as such, the EU is hardly recognized as an actor in the field of culture.