Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Application of CIED: Cultural Cooperation

Part 1 of 3


In response to this tender a group of people, including Rod Fisher, Peter Inkei, Jerry Booth and others met in the office of then EFAH under the coordination of Frederique Chabaud to discuss possibilities to meet the deadline and to secure the tender. After some uncertainty about who would undertake the organisational responsibility, and while writing on the concept, it came to an agreement between Interarts in Barcelona and EFAH in Brussels to make a joint application. It was based only partly on what had been worked out by Hatto Fischer after that meeting in Brussels since Interarts wanted especially to use this opportunity to enlarge and to enrich its already considerable archive.

The official tender adopted by the European Commission can be found under following website


with following explanation given to the deviation from the original concept:

"The report on the State of Cultural Cooperation in Europe by EFAH and Interarts for the European Commission clearly shows that intergovernmental cultural cooperation is an essential part of the highly complex relationships between European states and has almost always involved an element of propaganda and self-promotion.  It is a means of image building and marketing a country.  Since the early Twentieth Century the need to keep cultural relations away from economic and political interests has been acknowledged by governments, but this awareness has not often been translated into actions and intergovernmental cultural cooperation remains primarily a means of promotion rather than collaboration."

Let it be said originally this was not the concept and understanding of cultural cooperation: image making and propaganda, but the European Commission did not wish those who worked on the tender to look into how Civil Society, NGOs and other cultural organisations engage themselves in all sorts of cultural co-operations across borders, vertical and horizontal connections included, to facilitate cultural adaptation, but the European Commission bounded by the Maastricht Treaty had to look into those areas which could be identified as potential complementaries to what members states did or rather did not do and where cultural cooperation could be advanced if it would be seen as a European action.

Part of the work has been continued especially by the Cultural Observatories, fore mostly by the Budapest one under the guidance of Peter Inkei who ensures that we are reminded of East/West differences or what catching up different sectors of culture have to do while cultural operators keep attempting to improve cultural cooperation Europe wide.

hatto fischer

Athens 12.7.2008


Performance of a study on cultural co-operation in Europe in various cultural and artistic fields

Public services contract No DG EAC/48/02, to be awarded by open procedure and by invitation to tender.

Title of further going Reflections:

Cultural Co-operation Agreements in Europe

as perceived by


Comments written by

Hatto Fischer

The deadline for this tender was October 11, 2002.

Cultural Co-operation Agreements in Europe


Introduction (p. 5)

Cultural Co-operation Agreements in Europe


Historically speaking, the strength of the Renaissance lies in the fact that it was a part of the citizens’ movement of those times and, therefore, urban based in response to conditions of competition e.g. between the best architects as sponsored by the trade guilds. It was also a turning point towards the ‘human being’ as ‘subject’, and therefore, as shown already by Giotto an act of emancipation from the tutelage of the church and its power to define what is art. The aesthetics of the church had been restricted since the picture disputes of the 5th century to images of religion that were not allowed to appeal or to incite the senses, but must invoke awe of God as something remaining invisible, therefore should not come into the picture.

This is important to recall when the European programmes designed for the promotion of culture try to invoke ‘visibility’ as key criterion. For stripped from that historical context, such criterion can be misunderstood only as a crude measure in favour of something concrete in the most ordinary sense, namely as being self-evident in its existence like the proof of money having been spend by the European Union on something practical i.e. a bridge or an entire road system, and this regardless whether that fits into the landscape or is in agreement with the people. Mayors are famous that they wish to have visible results from European projects so why should this be different from cultural ones?

Consequently the current demand of the European Union to make the cultures of Europe become visible to its citizens is at best a misconceived understanding of the contents of culture. Music is heard, while paintings, sculptures, dances or films make things visible only when open to interpretations that allow a step for step alteration in perception. The misconceptions have to be shed before things are seen. Gombrich in ‘Story of Art’ gives sufficient examples to show different approaches to the reasons for that old, but still actual picture dispute of the 5th century. Thus care must be taken when formulating any tool for implementing cultural policy of the future, that the real core of Europe’s cultural self-understanding is taken into consideration

All the more care has to be taken now, that the 15 Member States are willing to enlarge the European Union by including the Accession countries. The reform of the European institutions and their agenda should not mean less, but a more conscious cultural policy. The new European constitution without a conscious cultural dimension, that is Article recognizing the Cultural Rights, will fail to come to terms with European reality

The future constitution needs to give recognition to the Freedom of Artistic Expression as meaning the freedom of any kind of political tutelage whether a regional authority, national state or the Union as a whole. Without such constitutional Right, Europe will not come to terms with the cultural reality of the 21st century

Europe is based on diverse cultural streams and identities all in need to face one common task, namely how to avoid over commercialization from destroying further cultural identities and not only individuals but entire social groups and societies from becoming over alienated so much that loss of ‘value of life’ spills over immediately into all forms of violence. The latter is just another kind of carelessness as to the destructions caused to both people and natural landscapes. Today people are frightened how little human life counts. Their agendas is a crazy mixture of rational and highly irrational motives with many running about and following some kind of flag or symbol marking some kind of allegiance in the hope of not being alone

As if the painting by Altdoerfer of the ‘Alexander Battle’ has been transformed into a modern context with key structures and lines of actions not being defined by God above when announcing who will win the battle, Alexander or Darius, but by people shaping messages of the media fleeting across the screen. People flee all sorts of violence while getting involved in still newer forms of violence and counter violence. Security has become since Kosova an overriding priority putting everything else in its shade. Consequently people don’t seem to recognize the strife for victory in such imaginary battles is but a fake outcome of des-illusion-ment as to the meaning of life for everyone. Here the absence of dialogue, of the ‘human voice’ when languages are conveyed to the other – and that is hardly possible in the form of commands or negations – has been explained by Michel Foucault insofar ‘people begin only then to speak with one another, if no victory is necessary’

The reason for saying all of this is that Europe’s cultures are based on dialogue, on speaking with the other and as institutional form this requires new forms of co-operation. Indeed cultural dispositions will determine in future relationships in Europe when 31 countries shall join to constitute together on the basis of co-operation between states the unifying entity called Europe. Given the enormous diversity and the many differences, it goes without saying, that here a purely economic approach will not suffice to bring all together but also the misconception of culture and consequently the mistaken cultural policy as compromise between the European Union and the Member States will have to be overcome. For momentarily cultural policy at European level is being implemented as outcome of concessions made to this and that, but there is no vigorous policy in place to ensure Europe will uphold its cultural diversity and in turn the basis for dialogue

It goes without saying that the extra European value created out of cultural co-operation must be compatible to the cultural recognition of what the others can give as based on their freedom to artistic expression. As the Nobel prize for the Hungarian writer Imre Kertesz in 2002 signals, these countries of Eastern Europe have primarily means to economic viability through their vast human resources. This is expressed by a rich cultural heritage, deep literary tradition, tremendous repertoire of music, amazing types of performances (e.g. ‘laterna magica’ in Prague) and various layers of visual arts – all indicating the existence of an innovative cultural sector in these countries

Consequently if the people of the Accession Countries are not to be seen merely as threat to jobs by those living in the 15 Member States, then appreciation of the Accession countries has to be enhanced. It can be done by means of ‘cultural co-operation’ as the best practice to facilitate Enlargement

It is only through culture and cultural co-operation that all countries shall be able to overcome this lack of awareness of the others while working towards a broader, equally common accessible Europe based on the governance of its people

This seems to be recognized by the Danish EU presidency when presenting on 17 July 2002 to the Cultural Affairs Committee a Draft Council Resolution on “the work plan on European cooperation in the field of culture”

However, the draft resolution is not an adequate and feasible recognition of the need for cultural co-operation when the ‘European added value’ is linked solely to “mobility of persons and circulation of works in the cultural sector”, in order to strengthen the ‘visibility’ of culture at European level

In other words, to start off Enlargement as a positive ‘cultural adaptation’ to the needs of the others, recognition is needed that there are many more facets and levels to cultural co-operations than entailed in that Draft resolution. To draw attention to ongoing practices, the CIED proposes to the Commission that to further discussion on this subject matter, it would like to depart from a simple definition of ‘cultural co-operation’

While walking with Bob Palmer through the streets of Brussels and reflecting about the subject matter of this tender, he asked one member of CIED: “but what does the Commission, the Member States and institutions like the British Council mean by ‘cultural co-operation’, for that begins already with having a dialog with someone else, in order to exchange information?”

Indeed, it is simply said, but dialogue as the beginning of all cultural co-operation is the real asset of culture in Europe

At a more complex level, Robert Payne when writing about ‘Ancient Greece’, he turned his attention to the reasons for the breakdown of the multi-cultural empire Alexander the Great tried to create, but which collapsed the moment he had died. Robert Payne points at a crucial factor: by then no philosophical thought had been developed to support this idea of people having a more complex identity, one not to be reduced to a single city-state or polis, but one that allows many more cultures re-define identity as non-identity, in order to create space and tolerance for the others. Neither Aristotle nor Plato had gone ever beyond the borders of the Polis in belief of the democratic workings of a multicultural state

As a matter of fact, cultural co-operations, based on dialogue, should support and bring about such works and developments as they encourage and further European citizenship based on multi-cultural identities. Thought through solutions are needed for the creation of such structures that allow both cultural diversity and democratic practice to form the political process Europe needs to culturally accommodate its many streams and diverse elements.

1. Framework conditions of the tender


To provide a description and analysis of the current situation and present and future trends in cultural cooperation in EU member states, signatory countries to the EEA and accession candidate countries


  1. Provide a description of bilateral or multilateral cultural cooperation programmes and actions operating in Europe
  2. on the basis of the knowledge gained provide an analysis of the current situation of cultural cooperation in Europe
  3. supply a description and analysis of present trends
  4. conduct an examination of the likely major cultural trends in each of the five areas over the coming years
  5. furnish a list of the major cultural events planned in the area between 2003 and 2006

Time constraint

Requirements stipulate that once the tender has been awarded, there must be submitted an interim report after 2 months, a draft final report after 3 months and a final version one month after the receipt of comments from the Commission.

Object of tender: Cultural Co-operation Agreements

Out of what has been said in the introduction, we can propose an evaluative measure: cultural co-operation agreements are significant if they can give ‘a sense of direction’ to Cultural Actions in Europe. However, it is an underlying assumption of this bid that the extra European value strived for can only be gained, if they fulfil the prime purpose of “offsetting imbalances created by market forces that are threatening to drive life out of societies and thereby make the articulation of cultural identities impossible” (Michael D. Higgins). If ‘cultural diversity’ is an asset to Europe, cultural policy and hence cultural co-operation must ensure that such bad practices are avoided, so as to sustain efforts that cultural actions remain differentiated and are directed towards the European level while cultural identities remain intact.


The departure point for this tender bid shall be the definition of cultural co-operation agreements used by the Council of Cultural Ministers - presumably the highest decision making level (with all its implications especially in the field of culture) of Europe

As recently as 17 July 2002, the Danish Presidency delivered to the Cultural Affairs Committee a draft resolution “on the work plan on European Cooperation in the field of culture: European added value and Mobility of persons and circulation of works in the cultural sector.”

The aim of that resolution is to further such cultural co-operation agreements that allow the European Union to fund such actions with following distinctive characteristics:

supplement and / or move beyond Member States actions as well as encourage the cooperation between Member States

only such actions that cannot be sufficiently undertaken outside the framework of the Community and whose appropriateness as Community action has been assessed

be of multilateral nature

should have benefits at the level of the European Union, and not merely at national and regional level

address ‘European citizens’ and promote ‘European cultures’, and “not only citizens and cultures at a national or regional level”

be sustainable and constitute a long term contribution to both the cultural cooperation and the European cultures in a long term perspective

actions should prioritise the aim of a broader visibility

(Cult 35 10775/02)

Here note needs to be taken that cultural cooperation is meant to move beyond Member State actions while encouraging cooperation between them. Depending on how the Community framework is defined and interpreted, this is clearly a move away from bilateral and towards multilateral actions whose benefits to the European Union are in need of assessment

It means, actions should address not national or regional but European citizens, requiring thereby cultural perceptions of active citizenship to be elevated to the European level. This will not be easily achievable if Member States and their semi official institutions are called upon to implement this action program

There is, however, already a notable trend in the shape of a rethinking process going on at the level of cultural institutes like Goethe, British Council, Cervantes insofar as they started to form a network in Brussels with the aim of future collaboration on European cultural policy. The national and cultural coordinates would thereby alter and instead of promoting one language, one culture, the European distinctiveness of multiculturalism and many other major aims such as supporting minor languages would be promoted instead

Altogether it is clear that such actions need to be sustainable in the long run and that they should ‘prioritise’ “the aim of a broader visibility”. Prior to discussing the implications of that, the framework conditions of the tender itself need to be considered

Framework conditions of the tender

As to the call for the tender, attention needs to be drawn to three crucial aspects:

Article 151 of the Treaty establishing the European Community because it defines the Community’s powers in the field of culture. Subsequent action supported and co-funded by the Community should aim to encourage “cultural cooperation between Member States” as well as “supporting and supplementing their action” where necessary

Following a resolution by the European Parliament (5.9.2001) on cultural cooperation, there is a call to the European Commission to draw up a “triennial cultural cooperation plan” to support “cultural exchanges and cooperation” because in this area actions (needed) contribute to “Europe’s capacity for integration and cohesion”

The new budget heading (B3-2007) is designed for financing “measures for institutional cooperation on cultural matters” and thereby to facilitate “implementation of a cultural cooperation plan between the Member States of the European Union”

Summed up, cultural cooperation is defined as institutional cooperation in Europe at the level of national authorities or cultural institutions with the aim of promoting common interests for cultural ends. It does not include co-operation between Member States and Europe nor what the European Union could initiate on its own cultural co-operation agreements. The emphasis is as always on the complementary character especially in culture that gives leeway to European Union initiatives

European Commission

Called upon to draw up the plan for this triennial cultural cooperation plan, the European Commission realizes that the “in-depth knowledge of the current situation and current and future trends in cultural cooperation in Europe” is more than just a prerequisite. As the Commission admits, due to not having this knowledge, “it wishes to gain it via the performance of a study”

It will be crucial for this tender bid to demonstrate how such high quality performance of can be guaranteed. Furthermore, given the fact that aside from in-depth knowledge there is a need for a comprehensive search engine, metaphorically speaking, to find out about the current and future situation in Europe with regards to cultural co-operation, the bid will have to demonstrate that it is based on a sound methodology apt for the European situation

The five lots

The European Commission has outlined for the tender a specific task when it comes to examining the situation in Europe when it comes to cultural co-operations. Before anything else, there need to examined five specific lots:

For each lot the Commission has developed one common template that falls into two temporal zones:

Forms of cultural co-operations in these five lots are to be defined by

Temporal zone 1:

what exists currently in terms of both structure (vertical) and domains (horizontal) when it comes to assessing cultural co-operation agreements in each of the 31 European countries to be examined

Specifically this involves examining:

Temporal zone 2:

what can be anticipated on hand of recurring but also new themes emerging to indicate trends and things to come

It should be noted that this leaves out film, media, architecture, as well as the relationship between culture and education as much as between culture and economic development i.e. the so called cultural industries. Recent changes in Europe mark a shift away from traditional concepts of culture and towards a modern managerial approach linking most advanced business practices to the cultural fields e.g. the creation of ‘Resource’ in the UK as encompassing museums, galleries and libraries. Before looking therefore at these lots, a context analysis is needed to understand the situation.

Cultural Co-operation of the future three year Program

To envision a Europe that bases its reform process on the cultural consensus of everyone, involving thereby people per dialogue in shaping Europe’s future, the gap between that need and official policy has to be identified and evaluated in terms of the capacity of such cultural cooperation agreements that can bridge this gap now and in near future. It would mean letting cultural evaluation take the lead in the performance process (research, discussions, reflections and interpretations) about both the concept of cultural cooperation agreements and their structures / domains as they exist right now or are likely to come into existence in near future

As the current reform process linked to the European Convention shall not suffice, the general base for discussing impacts of various EU programs has to be build up on bridging this gap. This is crucial especially in the age of the Information Society with tendencies towards e-democracy and e-governance making new forms of political administration possible

A future three-year program should aim to further such cultural co-operation agreements that allow assessment of the impact of all EU policies by European citizens. Culture becomes thereby a qualitative measure for the tasks ahead as much as a reflection of what has been realized until now

The tender underlines the urgent need for the European Commission to know how to position itself with regards to such a future program to be implemented in a Europe. In order to articulate such a position, those asked to fulfill the tasks of the tender have to be working already effectively and consistently in this direction. They can do so only on the basis of many different types and forms of cultural co-operations.

A possible validation and verification of the know-how about cultural co-operation thereof can be reflected on hand of the methodological approach taken by Group 31.

2. Task of the European Commission in a future Europe

Given the need for reform of the European Union, the ongoing work of the European Convention, the Enlargement process itself, the global pressures upon all societies and the task itself to draw up a triennial program to further Cultural Cooperation in Europe, the Commission needs to demonstrate that governance of European affairs means translating co-operation into Community actions. Especially in view of what the Draft Resolution states, namely

in accordance with the principle of the EC Treaty concerning subsidiarity while finding out what actions the Member States cannot undertake on their own,

such Community action shall follow that applies to the concept of European added value by making “the cultural actions more coherent, structured and visibible” (paragraph 5 / 10775/02, p. 2)

being furthermore those in the cultural fields that “denote positive synergy effects emerging from cross-border cooperation and circulation”, as long as these actions have a clear European aim and “constitute a distinctive European dimension in addition to national actions and policies” (op.cit, paragraph 6)

while taking to mean that the concept of European value is not static and “therefore should be flexible, functional and adaptable to development and needs, especially in the perspective of the EU enlargement”, (op.cit., paragraph 7)

so then these “actions should prioritise the aim of a broader visibility” (op. cit, paragraph 8)

it is safe to say, that this is anything but self-understand, therefore very difficult to communicate to the European Parliament when seeking agreement for the implementation plan, and outside the scope of current philosophical and other forms of discussions about culture and what Europe in this world faces in the coming years.

Interpretation of a future Community framework for cultural cooperation

In reality, the kind of cooperation of citizens through the European Union as independent entity with the Member States needs to be made conceivable as basis of cultural policy in favour of cultural diversity based on creativity and the freedom of artistic expression. But before outlining risks of furthering still more misconceptions about culture, there need to be interpreted the wording used above to designate the Commission’s tasks.

i. Subsidiarity principle

in accordance with the principle of the EC Treaty concerning subsidiarity while finding out what actions the Member States cannot undertake on their own,

It can be easily stated at the outset, that cultural cooperation agreements are made in order to resolve certain key questions pertaining to cultural actions. Consequently they should promote culture and artists along with their works rather than reinforcing already existing problems

For example, subsidiarity as principle is being sold in Europe as Cultural Rights, but under the auspices of a very strange kind of autonomy. In reality the application of this principle is far from meeting any true demands for European cultures to be based on bottom-up initiatives by citizens seeking new ways of participating in community life. The ‘small-over-big’ slogan has meant in practice that EU funds are merely redistributed according to another top-down model based on regional autonomy of other than the official cultures (and languages) as recognised by the Member States

Certainly any culture has to be based on the Freedom to Artistic Expression by every citizen. Instead subsidiarity is taken as the Right to impose upon regions a single and exclusive cultural concept such as Welsh, Irish, Catalonian identities, as if in Cardiff or Galway there would no other or even multi-cultural identities seeking their expression within modern urban structures

Of interest is the perception of the European Union by cultural forces turned political, including the Flemish bloc in Flanders, as a chance to overcome the tutelage of the nation state. They wish cultural autonomy or rather direct recognition by the European Union, if only to construct their own region as defined by a single cultural claim as a new nation state based on one cultural identity. Here elements of that can be reflected in the Committee of the Regions and in what the Regionalists e.g. MEP Eurig Wyn and Member of the Cultural Committee of the European Parliament from Wales represent, namely a very much reduced concept of culture with key focus upon language as carrier of culture and therefore as a tool to claim a political domain of its own making where this language is being spoken

All that has been recognized by the European Union during the Year of the Language, but which went by hardly noticeable, and which is being supported through such institutions as the one for Lesser Spoken Languages. At the core of the dispute is, however, the Right to make direct applications to European Funds, that is without having to have as the case with Catalonia to obtain permission through the central state of Spain located in Madrid and therefore dominated by another culture

It is important to note that the draft of Giscard D’Estaing’s working group within the European Convention does treat the subsidiarity principle as a constitutional matter and that special inputs have been made on this topic to the Convention, the degree of which has to be assessed in the light of competencies and further actions to be undertaken by the European Union.

ii. European added value

such Community action shall follow that applies to the concept of European added value by making “the cultural actions more coherent, structured and visibible” (paragraph 5 / 10775/02, p. 2)

There exists tremendous confusion about this term and only few know what it really means in terms of implementation. There prevails also a real gap between economic and cultural values. It is safe to assume that cultural co-operation agreements do not attempt to close that gap in any way. Altogether there are few ‘theories of culture’ prevailing in Europe that could link culture with economic development and vice versa. Rather the stress put upon the Extra European Value as entry to European projects par excellence remains to be a major obstacle for many to participate in European programs

Furthermore the very existence of continuous unemployment suggests that the ‘European added value’ is not working as assumed. This cannot be attributed solely to the failure of the Cultural Sector to provide jobs directly and indirectly by stimulating further going investments. It may be necessary, but it is hardly sufficient to talk about the cultural industry / media / Information Society + Cultural Services, even if they are interrelated with tourism

The reason is that ‘culture’ itself becomes an elusive term when not understood as basic value orientation which can suffer from current types of development. Certainly traditional ship owners would not survive, if they were not supported through various programs having to do with cultural heritage, maritime historical cultural work, revival of cultural centres in old ports or enclaves etc. As much of the support for cultural programmes comes from the structural funds, education and other funds which do not specifically target culture the crucial question here is when is the direct interface needed between local actors and cultural policy instruments meant to be used to activate and reactivate ancient and traditional know-how in an innovative way, to encourage cultural adaptation to the new realities of production and consumption as well as the social and cultural needs of the present?

iii. European dimension: synergies across borders and things brought into circulation

being furthermore those in the cultural fields that “denote positive synergy effects emerging from cross-border cooperation and circulation”, as long as these actions have a clear European aim and “constitute a distinctive European dimension in addition to national actions and policies” (op.cit, paragraph 6)

Cultural Cooperation agreements made to fund European projects can only touch upon the European dimension, if based not just on any, but on true cultural co-operation. This is definitely not the case if partnership is hierarchically structured and over dominated by the lead partner taking most of the money. If the case, it would deny any form of co-operation based on equality within the project and therefore not lead on to such cultural actions that are based on dialogue and experiencing the others while giving practical and theoretical support (culture is all about true recognition) based on understanding the concrete needs of the others

Therefore, it would be the task of a cultural cooperation agreement to outline already the constraints under which these needs can be satisfied. Some of these constraints have to relate to the quality of partnership, e.g. equality between the partners, while others can stipulate need for dissemination of information, e.g. translation of all texts into the working language of every partner. If decisions are to be based on cultural consensus seeking methods, then the steering committee will have to give a voice not merely political representatives, but also artists and cultural actors, experts, etc. Again true cooperation means recognizing that while political authorities may bring into project money, artists have the ideas and content, so that responsibility (who signs) and commitment to the project (deliveries, quality of work) have to relate to the essential of co-operation: the sharing of information, knowledge and resources while outcomes achieved shall be specified in terms of impact assessment, ownership and need to continue upholding the European dimension. Usually the enthusiasm for something stops the moment all the money is spend

To advance in the direction of true co-operation, more positive support is needed from the Commission than what has been the case up to now. Especially cultural co-operation agreements must be carried by this quality of coming to terms with culture as a complexity with own terms

Unfortunately there is a tendency towards funding only those projects that repeat/present themselves in a common language of ‘good practice’, while not venturing forward enough to become truly innovative: that is as sustainable entities by themselves. Instead many projects play it safe by trying to obtain further European funds in order to continue what they are doing already, namely keeping this matter to themselves. There is little dissemination and very little sign of open-ended processes so that as projects unfold more people could join in

The reason for such a failure is mainly the administration of financial flows. Managerial, top down, non participatory ways of handling things are tailored towards the one who takes the lead while true partnership is never realised despite all declarations in the original partnership and co-operation agreement. Along with the usual routine of reporting, monitoring and evaluating, the main fault line in EU projects is the lack of consistency when it comes to articulating the European dimension. Only in some cases this loss of authenticity adding only more negative things to an already over alienated Europe has been counter balanced in the past by a learning process in matters of international co-operation

However before ‘good practices’ can be institutionalised, there is a need to identify what leads to ‘bad practices’. Otherwise misuse of funds and fraud will accompany a deterioration in the ‘morality of payment’ until European projects no longer live up to the reputation of being capable of upholding principles of ‘Good Practice’ based on transparency, accountability and consistency

Indeed, in the absence of ‘good practices’ especially when it comes to dealing with culture and actors in the cultural fields / lots, the problems with cultural co-operation multiply as the perception of European citizens of Europe as a whole recedes until it ceases to exist, or at least exists merely to the extent that it does not make any significant difference in daily life

In other words, wrongly administered EU programs allow co-operations to exist per forma but without any substance. Already strong voices are heard, for instance, in Germany insofar local administrators searching for funds to repair the damage created by the recent flood waters, ask, who needs Europe, for all they want is to re-build, not to travel, or get involved in international co-operation. There is resistance against anything complex while the very emphasis upon ‘visibility’ only reinforces the trend towards still more overt actions and such projects that mean construction and real use of materials, as if this is the only proof of something is being done with the money received from the European Union

The failure of the European Union to come to terms with needs of authenticity to overcome alienation has been described by Calvino in ‘Invisible Cities’ as the contradictory search for orientation in the empty corridors of administration, when in fact the real person to ask sits outside, underneath an apple tree. This failure to realize what is being looked for when ‘visibility’ is being stressed, that becomes most apparent when the most obvious is being overlooked

Altogether the failure of Europe to provide a meaningful orientation into the future underlines why a deep disappointment has set in amongst many people. They, and especially the artists and cultural actors see in what Europe had set out to do but has so far not realised

For instance, the level of debate about the future of Europe, if at all existing in the various Member States, is an indication of not lack of visibility, but a sign of absence of such dialogue that would allow cultural actions to be undertaken once various partners have come to not merely an agreement, but to new forms of cultural cooperation. The latter implies another level of sustainability by advancing in exchange of experiences and information to a new quality of working together. Above all this has to be based on trust and be free of ‘disturbed communication patterns’. The latter are based on as much misgivings as mistrust and make the realization of long term commitments, in particular those that are needed to sustain European institutions, next to impossible

Only as long as the imagination can still write stories into the dust on the ground, and people participating in European project experience true co-operation, can Europe discover itself in what people narrate to one another about what is going on. If they are to level with the overall task of realizing Europe as a mature entity, then through these co-operation attempting to reverse the negative trend of things being done independently from one another, that is without agreement and therefore without awareness of the impact of one’s own actions upon the others

As a result new forms of co-operation have to developed and furthered by innovative EU projects. They are expressed best by taking further existing and newly emerging networks forming again a network of networks e.g. EFAH in the Cultural Sector. There fore, it should be the task of this tender to examine the authenticity of that claim that good forms of co-operation do exist and that European integration as well as Enlargement can be build on them

In describing and analysing, therefore, the existing types of cultural co-operation agreements at Member State level, attention should be drawn to these other forms and types of co-operations as practiced already in the Cultural Sector.

iv. Cultural adaptations and the Enlargement process

while taking to mean that the concept of European value is not static and “therefore should be flexible, functional and adaptable to development and needs, especially in the perspective of the EU enlargement”, (op.cit., paragraph 7)

Clearly Enlargement seems to expose this weakness of the European Union, its working methodology and way of proceeding to initiate political processes. If anything, it is becoming increasingly more apparent a systematic failure to strengthen culture as key factor of cohesion. Next to economic factors, culture is constantly and systematically neglected, ignored or even worse under estimated. Yet if cohesion in Europe is to be attained, all the more so governance shall require a minimum of sharing the same values. Thus, since values are involved when it comes to upholding democratic practice, then bypassing culture does not help at all

But more has to be still said on this topic of cultural adaptation, a key concept of the LOGOS research group that has lead Jesse Marsh to re-examine the notion of cultural diversity within the Information Society

Simply said, cultural adaptation is only possible if the respective culture articulates its own true needs and in so doing can bring about an adaptation of the economic forces to these cultural demands. Whether or not this is compatible with the subsidiarity principle as discussed before, that has to be examined. Certainly Enlargement means no cultural needs and therefore the entire European Union has to undergo an enormous cultural adaptation process in order to accommodate these new and other cultural needs.

v. Criterion of visibility

so then these “actions should prioritise the aim of a broader visibility” (op. cit, paragraph 8)

Due to the Council of Cultural Ministers emphasizing once again the criterion of ‘visibility’, the European Commission risks to reduce Cultural Actions to ever more ‘symbolic actions’. At the same time, the true cultural needs for bringing Europe up to a standard of good practice in all cultural fields, including the working together in all economic sectors, go unrecognised and even worse are unnecessarily antagonised by the sheer weight of neglect

Consequently all management orientations point in the wrong direction, since they advocate ‘critical mass’, as if only huge sums of money will bring about ‘learning processes’ in future for the European Union, and not which cultural co-operations bring about mutual understanding and a differentiated perception of the others. The reduction to ever fewer projects because of having to be manageable, but also pay in the end for those who implement these projects, leaves out many more diverse and small projects involving many more people than the single managed mega projects. As a consequence of the need to appear ‘successful’, when it comes to justify itself to the European Parliament, the European Commission tends to shift resources to only those whose success can be proven convincingly at that political level, even though the Parliament represents at best an opinion making body of political representatives articulating themselves individually in a landscape dominated by political parties at national levels and by quite other forces, internationally and globally speaking. The European Commission has learned due to its peculiar interaction with Parliament but to encourage complacency in many policy matters at the neglect of substantial issues elsewhere, but which are difficult to challenge due to a lack of practical discourse on these and other matters

For instance, criterion of success means also obtaining the capacity and ability to sway big audiences parallel to the market concept of Europe. Such a policy follows the media logic of aiming at a very simple criterion of success: ‘the more the better’. For ‘visibility’ means not merely that the event can be seen, but equally that many see it. It reduces culture to mass consumption e.g. 7.5 billion viewers were claimed as having watched world wide the Olympic games when held in Sydney. In turn, this justifies and is used to explain revenues taken from sponsors, advertisement, TV and other media franchises etc

Hence in such a world a small, but innovative literary group trying new forms of translation shall not be funded except in extraordinary cases because they will never attract a big audience, yet in future that group will form the base for an important bridge of understanding between different linguistic contexts. This will not become visible in the next twenty years and when its impact shall be felt, then most likely no one will remember the source of innovation. For culture means also giving impulses to live freely; it is not tied into an ordinary economic transaction of exchange and thus its success cannot be measured in the same way as selling this year more cars than the previous one. Obviously the relationships between culture and economy are not the same, although many efforts have been made exactly on this matter of how to measure the unmeasurable, ‘quality of life’ but one of these difficult criteria. Still, the most crucial task of culture would be to free people from a kind of negative self-understanding as if they could not undertake themselves initiatives to govern themselves and that with all the responsibilities that go with it in order to be accountable and correct in the assumptions made when deciding to do things this and not in another way

Still, the ‘way of life’ as shaped as outcome of many decisions should be subject to critical cultural reflections and good practices enhanced not merely by cultural policy, but by the very principle of cultural co-operation based on dialogue. After all, there is needed also the basis for ‘rationale politics’ when people have to come to terms with pressing issues and reality altogether

The reduction of all this to ensuring that culture remains ‘visible’, that would be robbing Europe of its enormous potentiality to unfold through dialogues perspectives and philosophical questions as to very immediate and pressing economic matters. Equally the European flag can make at an exhibition in Venice during the Biennale the presence of the European Union visible, but it will overlook that what takes place when a mother reads to her child a story, the fruits of that becoming visible only many years later. This is said because Viviane Reding in her explanations of Culture 2000 when negotiations were still going on December 1999 / January – February 2000, did speak about the need for the European Union to become more visible to the people of Europe. As a matter of fact she took this to mean making a European exhibition at the Biennale in Venice, a place of greater ‘visibility’ since anyhow many people interested in the arts shall be there. If taken further, this would mean replacing bottom-up cultural actions based on dialogue by showing mere presence of the European Union and would furthermore translate the understanding of cultural policy into but a strategy of communication to ensure the European Union remains present in the consciousness of people as a body that is somehow around, but merely vaguely with no one really sure what it stands for or how its decisions affect the everyday lives of people

Aside from that ‘visibility’ since the picture dispute of the 5th century has another meaning in the arts. It meant, for instance, not to show erotic parts of the human being, while artists overcame that kind of censorship over and again, even if it meant doing free expressions of art in the cemetery, that is when making sculptures for graves. This then, for example, distinguishes them from the artists in Ancient Greece who responded to the need of people’s wish to remain immortalized even after having died. In any case, upholding life even when no longer the person is around, is not just a simple expression of visibility or not, but by which that person wishes to be remembered by

Being remembered in a certain way can form with the memories of the others the basis of human consciousness and self-understanding. Narratives, the art of telling stories, while upholding cultural identities in urban quarters which do not wish to succumb to be merely there for the tourist trade, that has nothing to do with ‘visibility’ in the common sense of understanding, but very much with upholding vitality and belief in oneself as not being merely a matter of mass consumption and culture turned inside out like a glove just to keep smiling for the tourists wishing to make a photo from the authentic rests left at the way side

There is one old woman who is photographed so often that people don’t seem to realize how disturbing this repeated interference into her private life is. They pass her as tourists on their way up to the Acropolis. For she is living in the Plaka below the Acropolis and with her numerous flowerpots keeping her busy, she stands out from the rest of the tourist surroundings catering by now only to those passing-by to see the Acropolis but not really anymore those still living there. She has become a living icon of a normal life that existed once in the Plaka and angrily she shouts sometimes as yet another photographer seizes a moment of her life. Of interest is that not her nudity as a woman would interest anyone, but as a relict of the past, she contrasts sharply to what modern life has become, namely indifferent to authentic life

After Second World, one theologian and philosopher in Holland started a series of lectures on the ‘ethics of seeing’. He meant the fact that many Germans claimed not to have seen what happened to the Jewish people. Today the dialogue about seeing what is not visible, but does exist as part of culture, may be another kind of ethics of practice

To add briefly to this aspect of ‘visibility’, Martin Jay speaks about the twentieth century as being the era of the ‘Disenchantment of the Eye’, while Michel Foucault points out that doctors would always want to see the core of the sickness, something they could not but merely touch outside the skin at the location where heat is being generated, and only once the patient has been opened up (after death autopsy or by means of x-Rays and surgical intervention), the ‘doctor’s glance’ managed to reconstruct the process from a healthy to a sick stage in order to validate the diagnosis and the therapy decided upon

Then, in the modern age of communication, media and visual surveillance at airports, in banks etc., the relationship between private and public has altered the notion of what needs to be made ‘visible’, in order to classify as a cultural action funded by the European Union. There is a whole range of issues in need of being clarified before it is possible to assume that the criterion of ‘visibility’ is at all understood in its full and extend of meaning when it comes to further such cultural cooperation agreements that would undertake it to make the cultures of Europe to become more visible to all citizens. There are many more problems than what meets the eye at a glance, and only by going around the next corner, as the philosophical saying goes, will the European Commission and the Council of Ministers for Culture come to realize that this demand has many shortcomings and considerable signs of failures in coming to another kind of resolution about the needs for cultural co-operations in Europe.


From what has been said above, it should be clear that need for co-operation has to mean another type of agreement between the European Union and the member states. Currently Member States, regions, cities and their cultural movements have come to accept and to maintain the fact that culture is not a prime domain of the European Commission nor should the European Union undertake such actions that go against the principle of subsidiarity. However, the latter has worked only in favour of allowing a top-down imposition of a single definition of culture when claims to autonomy are not compatible with the true sovereignty of people

By not resolving that conflict, the Cultural Rights of people is constantly violated and the dialogue between citizens and the European Union not existing. Hence under the present situation based on concessionary powers capable of directing and regulating already decided upon affairs at another level, it is impossible for the citizen of Europe to curtail national legal systems where they limit negatively cultural freedoms

That means the task of making European cultures visible to European citizens, as understood by the Council of Ministers for Culture to be the sole task of the European Union and therefore of European programs administered by the European Commission, is an ill conceived one.

Read the Part 2 of this article: Application of CIED: Cultural Cooperation II

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