The European Economic and Social Committee – EESC’s Section for External Relations (REX) is to propose an own-initiative opinion on the subject: Cultural diplomacy as a vector of EU external relations. New partnerships and role of CSO.

On 21 June 2021, the EU Council approved the Council conclusions “EU approach to cultural heritage in conflict and crises”. This Council decision intends to make “cultural diplomacy” a strong vector of peace and development in the framework of the EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). The decision tasks European External Action Service (EEAS), the European Commission and all relevant EU Agencies and bodies to engage in concrete actions in this respect, also through the establishment of a specific task-force promoted by the EEAS and invited to report annually to the Council, on progress made on the implementation. The Council decision also underlines the importance of strengthening partnerships with relevant international and regional organisations, as well with intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations.

The objective of the European Economic and Social Committee proposed opinion is to enlarge the debate around the concept of cultural diplomacy by providing concrete recommendations and proposing actions to strengthen and optimise this innovative area of policy. We plan to focus on the reinforcement of the coherence of EU external policies and instruments; on the complementarity between the tangible and intangible heritage; on the link with climate change as a source of crisis; on the inclusion and empowerment of local actors, women and youth; on possibilities to develop concrete cooperation and partnerships between EU cultural Institutions and Civil Society Organisations (CSO) actors and their counterparts in third countries.