Cultural cooperation in the European Union

Unlike in many other areas, such as agriculture or trade, there is no coherent EU policy in the field of culture. Each member state develops its own cultural policy. The EU's role in the field of culture is to promote international cooperation and to support and complement the activities of the member states, where appropriate.

In regard to its activities in the field of culture, the Union relies on article 167. On the one hand, it emphasizes the need to protect national and regional diversity and, on the other, to preserve the Union's common cultural heritage.

The EU promotes cultural cooperation through various programmes. As of 2014, it has been possible to apply for grants for international cultural cooperation from the Creative Europe programme.

In addition to cooperation projects, a new programme supports the European cultural awards, the Capitals of Culture and cultural heritage designations, as well as cooperation with international organisations and third countries.

In order to safeguard the interests of the cultural sector, it is important to cooperate with other European Union policy areas. The connections to entrepreneurship, innovation, R&D, education, regional development and tourism are particularly important.

More information about EU activities in the field of culture and the relevant EU legislation can be found at:

European Capitals of Culture

Each year, two cities are named as the European Capitals of Culture. The title of Capital of Culture provides the cities an opportunity to introduce their culture and heritage, enliven their cultural life and make it more attractive, and develop cooperation with various cultural institutions. During the year that the city is the Capital of Culture, various cultural events take place there. Experience shows that the Capital of Culture year has long-term benefits for a city's cultural, social and economic development. 

See more on the European Commission website.

European Heritage Label

The European Heritage Label highlights monuments that symbolise Europe's common history. And the aim of the label is to highlight common European values. The main criterion is the symbolic European value of the monument and its role in European history and development. 

More about the European Heritage Label.

European Union’s cultural awards

The EU annually awards various cultural prizes: The Young Talent Architecture Award, The European Union Prize for Literature, The EU Prize for Contemporary Architecture, The Music Moves Europe Talent Awards, The EU Prize for Popular and Contemporary Music and The European Heritage Awards.

More about the European prizes and initiatives.


Heili Jõe

European Union Affairs

Last updated: 12.02.2021