Towards an EU Strategy for International Cultural Relations: An Initial, Critical but Constructive Analysis

Publication Date: 
Item Reference: 
EL-CSID Policy Brief 2016/1
Publication Place: 
Institute for European Studies
Publication Language: 
Policy Brief Type: 

The EU has recently produced a strategy paper for cultural diplomacy (Towards an EU Strategy of international cultural relations). This was delivered in the form of a joint communication to the EP and the Council, issued by the Federica Mogherini the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on June 8, 2016. This was two weeks before the UK voted to leave the EU and just shy of three weeks before the High Representative also delivered Shared Vision, Common Action: A Stronger Europe being the Global Strategy for the EU’s Foreign and Security Policy. Timing of the cultural relations strategy paper was thus, to say the least, less than propitious. The other two events do and will cast massive shadows over it.

In this short note we offer an early assessment of the international cultural relations strategy. We do so initially by taking it on its own terms. Obviously it is still too early to assess the impact of that strategy so its initial aspirations and intentions are scrutinized.But we cannot leave it at that; thus the second half of this note locates it in the wider context of the tough temper of the times we live in, the appearance of the bigger Global Strategy paper and the Brexit referendum vote.

The note is critical, but we hope constructively and sympathetically so.The search for such a strategy in its own right is to be commended. The key question is the degree to which the prospects for its implementation are realisable within the context of the constraints we outline.