The European Commission's cultural dimension of development cooperation

The European Commission believes that any successful development must build upon an appropriate cultural dimension as an element of social cohesion and inclusion, social stability, empowerment of youth, women and the disabled, and promotion of democracy and human rights. Culture also plays an important role in conflict and postconflict zones, for inter-cultural dialogue is a key element in bringing about peace and reconciliation between communities. Finally, culture and cultural industries have a great economic potential, either through heritage and responsible cultural tourism, or through economic revenues of cultural products. The link between culture, development, and social stability is therefore clear and has different dimensions. Culture can be either a tool for dialogue and social inclusion or a powerful driving economic force. (Stefano Manservisi in

Following the spirit of the UNESCO Convention, the aforementioned European Agenda for Culture ( further developed the idea of integrating and mainstreaming culture in the EU development policies and of reinforcing inter-cultural dialogue in European external relations.

The EC and its Member States have a strong mandate to support culture in ACP (Africa, Caribbean and Pacific countries) under Article 27 of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement, which creates a comprehensive framework for cultural cooperation that ranges from the mainstreaming of culture in development activities to the promotion of intercultural dialogue, the preservation of cultural heritage, support to cultural industries and improved access to European markets for ACP cultural goods and services.

Beyond the ACP framework, and for all developing countries with whom cooperation is taking place, the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI) includes, in its Thematic Programme "Investing in People", provisions on culture, which foresee support for promoting intercultural dialogue, cultural diversity and respect for other cultures, for international cooperation between cultural industries, for support for the social, cultural and spiritual values of indigenous peoples and minorities and for culture as a promising economic sector for development and growth.

Article 151 of the Lisbon Treaty requires the EC and its Member States to promote cultural aspects in its international relations with partners countries and regions; within the EU enlargement, as well as in the context of development and trade policies, as a contribution to a world order based on sustainable development, peaceful coexistence and dialogue between cultures. The use of cultural expressions has to become operational in the context of post-2013 instruments and programming.

European Council Conclusions on the promotion of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue in the external relations of the Union and its Member States
Culture and Development in the European Union’s external policy
European External Actions related to culture: