Common culture an integral part of European identity
Investing in culture benefits both the EU's economy and our joint European identity, writes Mircea Diaconu.
The EU needs to support European culture. Firstly, due to its long and rich history, Europe itself is, above all, a cultural space.
In addition, the majority of the problems the continent faces today - particularly the migrant crisis and culture clashes - are better dealt with from a cultural point of view rather than by force. Europe is home to a vast and unique cultural heritage. It is not called the 'old continent' for nothing.
However, financial support for culture is a competence that belongs principally to member states. The EU mostly funds cultural cooperation projects, such as those supported by the 'Creative Europe' programme, and other culture-related projects eligible under Horizon 2020, Europe for Citizens or structural funds.
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However, in my opinion, this is not enough. The issue is not so much about budgetary planning, but rather about the very philosophy that underpins the 'European concept'.
We should reinforce the cultural ties that link our nations and form the basis of our shared European identity. Without our cultural references, the EU is simply a common market. Is this really what we want?
We need to have a proper EU strategy for culture. This is precisely what Parliament has attempted with its recently adopted report, 'Towards an integrated approach to cultural heritage for Europe'.
It is important to acknowledge the place culture has within the economic framework, and recognise its great potential for return on investment.
We now have enough studies and data - a great example being the 'Cultural heritage counts for Europe' study published earlier this year - to show that investing in culture and cultural heritage generates sustainable economic growth and revenues of up to €26 for every Euro spent.
Additionally, the jobs offered by the cultural sector in general - and the cultural heritage sector in particular - are exactly the kind of highly skilled jobs that Europeans are looking for. In addition, heritage sites don't be leave the EU to look for cheaper labour.
Therefore, all arguments indicate that culture should be a higher priority on the political agenda, in terms of both financial planning and policy work.
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