Europe to set up a culture fund for ACP states

July 2007 -

The European Commission intends to set up a culture fund to support the distribution and production of cultural goods in the 78 African nations and the countries in the Caribbean and Pacific (ACP). The fund, amounting to at least € 30 million in the next six years, will aim to improve access to the EU and enlarge the markets of the ACP countries. Initiatives to revitalise local cultural industries can also apply for funding.

The EU has been looking for some time at how culture can be used in the fight against poverty. The Cotonou Agreement of 2000, which forms the basis of the cooperation between the EU and the ACP states, brings a cultural dimension to as many aid programmes as possible. The new culture fund is part of the first broad-based European culture strategy, which appeared on 10 May 2007 under the title 'A European Agenda for Culture in a Globalising World'.

The culture policy document shares the spirit of the Unesco Convention on Cultural Diversity, first established to protect local cultures and now a legally binding international treaty. The policy document underlines the special role of culture in the intercultural dialogue and the difficult process of European integration. A Cultural Forum will be established to involve the cultural sector more closely in the development of European policy on culture, and to make the EU more transparent and efficient. The ACP culture fund stems from a desire not only to integrate culture in development programmes but to make it a spearhead of European foreign policy.