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In 2017 EU ministers said that culture is “an essential part of the EU’s international relations.” But the EU is a new-comer to the field of cultural diplomacy and its policy is still in its infancy, both conceptually and in terms of implementation. Many questions remain unanswered.
How to draw the line between cultural relations and public diplomacy on the one hand and propaganda on the other? How to steer clear of neo-colonialism? How to encourage European governments, who are prone to national cultural show-casing, to work together and derive strength from unity?
This paper will explore some of the contours of this emerging European Union policy, its potential as well as its limitations.
Gijs de Vries is a senior visiting fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). He is a former member of the Dutch government and of the European Parliament. He has served as a board member of the European Cultural Foundation and was a founding member of the European Council on Foreign Relations.