Cultural Freedom in European Foreign Policy

Former MEP Gijs de Vries wrote this paper on the role of the European Union and its efforts to develop an EU strategy for international cultural relations.

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. Many questions remains 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 showcasing, to work together and derive strength from unity? This paper will explore some of the contours of this emerging European Union policy and assess its potential as well as its limitations in safeguarding Europe’s values and interests.