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New Paradigms, New Models – Culture in the EU External Relations

The conference “New Paradigms, New Models – Culture in the EU External Relations”, held in Ljubljana on 13 and 14 May, was organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia in cooperation with the European Commission, European Cultural Foundation and the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Austria and the Netherlands. The conference was based on the Communication on a European Agenda for Culture in a globalizing world adopted by the European Commission in May 2007 and endorsed by the Culture Ministers of the EU Member States in November 2007.

The conference brought together 240 participants from the EU institutions, national governments and cultural civil society from the EU and its neighbourhood. Altogether 46 countries were represented. A key feature was the active engagement of participants from the EU’s neighbouring countries in the Western Balkans and from the European and Mediterranean members of the European Neighbourhood Policy area. 

The conference was opened by introductory speeches by high political representatives: President of the General Affairs and External Relations Council and Slovenian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dimitrij Rupel, European Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth Ján Figeľ, European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner (video speech), European Commissioner for Science and Research Janez Potočnik and President of the European Parliament Hans-Gert Pöttering.

Discussion was based on three regional and three thematic workshops which brought up many conclusions, the most important being the priority of dialogue between public authorities and civil society in policy and tool development in Member States and third countries and between them. This dialogue should be strengthened with a view of better assessing past cooperation and the achievements and needs of the sector, and should be based on local expertise. The financial instruments are not sufficiently legible and flexible for the cultural sector: access to information should be improved and procedures simplified, taking into account local realities. The mobility of artists and cultural workers between the EU and its neighbourhood should be enhanced and direct connections between the neighbourhood regions themselves encouraged. There is a need to identify existing obstacles to mobility, including visa regimes, and to coordinate activities in order to overcome them.

Through a constructive consultation in the aforementioned triangle, the conference created a solid ground for incorporating the cultural dimension into the EU’s external relations and for strengthening the EU’s external relations policy with cultural components.

The recommendations of the conference were presented at the Education, Youth and Culture Council on 21 May, General Affairs and External Relations Council on 26 May, Euro-Mediterranean Conference of Ministers of Culture on  30 May, and at the European Council on 20 June.

You can find below the Slovenian Presidency Declaration and other documents related to the conference:


Presidency DeclarationMinister Dimitrij Rupel
Conference programmeCommissioner Ján Figel’
Parallel workshops programmeEP President Hans-Gert Pöttering
Background papersCommissioner Potočnik
Ljubljana ProcessCommissioner Ferrero-Waldner
Good practices
Parallel cultural initiatives