Culture is increasingly prominent on the international agenda. But the discussion about whether and how culture contributes to combating poverty and sustainable development has far to go. Part ten in a series about culture and development policy by donor countries.

The European Union

March 2007 -

International cooperation of the European Union with developing countries is mainly founded on the Cotonou Agreement (2000) with the 78 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries.

Its article 27 focuses on the “integrating of the cultural dimension at all levels of development cooperation”. The aid programmes are handled by Europe Aid, a department of the European Commission. Their main focus is on the protection of cultural heritage and the support of the audiovisual sector (e.g. Africa Cinémas). The European Development Fund, also supports development activities in the cultural field. Additionally, the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (Euromed) was established in 1995.

Particularly since 2005 a new and wider basis has been established by the UNESCO Convention (October 2005), which had been negotiated by t he European Commission, and the resulting European Consens (December 2005). “This convention forms the basis of a new pillar of world governance in cultural matters,” declared the Commission in a press release. Attending this process the Commission's Directorate General for Development organised a meeting of external stakeholders on culture in development policy on May 30 th 2006.

The sum of all EU members represents the biggest aid donor in the world. Twenty percent of the aid budget is managed by the Commission . Reducing poverty by establishing international solidarity through the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is the main goal. Part of this is the animation to reach the target of spending 0.7% of the GNP by 2015 and to support worldwide funds that stand in connection with the MDGs.

Besides the Commission, the European Parliaments' Committee on Development (DEVE) established the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly. which is the only international assembly in which representatives of various countries meet regularly in order to promote greater understanding between the people of the European Union countries and those of the ACP States and to raise public awareness of development issues.