"Education and culture are the key to the future – both for the individual as well as for our Union as a whole.[…] we must seize the opportunity and make sure education and culture are the drivers for job creation, economic growth, social fairness and ultimately unity".
(President Juncker, 14 November 2017)
Last Wednesday, the European Commission published the communication Strengthening European Identity through Education and Culture to contribute to the European leaders meeting in Gotenburg today. They present future ideas that entail access to EU funding beyond 2020, although final decisions will only be taken in the context of the future discussions on EU finances and budget next year (multi-annual financial framework).
They present an ambitious vision of a European Education Area, with a call that this political ambition need to be aligned with the financial means to act and therefore need to be reflected in the future discussions on EU finances.
We encourage this ambitious agenda that stresses the shared interest of all Member States to harness the full potential of education and culture as drivers for jobs, social fairness, active citizenship as well as a means to experience European identity in all its diversity.
Europe is facing key challenges, as for example the need to integrate a culturally diverse migrant population. And that education and culture can and should be part of the solution to tackles these challenges, as education, culture and sport have a pivotal role in promoting active citizenship and common values.
We fully support the ideas put forward under strengthening the sense of European Identity and awareness of cultural heritage, especially to revamp and strengthen the European Agenda for Culture by 2025, which we think is needed more now than when it was first adopted in 2007.
The statement is much more developed with respect to the role of education in building Europe, signaling that there is work to be done to bring forward the same depth of evidence on the role of culture.
We call on all European leaders towards the next budget and programme discussions for culture to strengthen the financial capacity connected to the social dimension of Europe. Cities in Europe are home to a wide range of communities from different cultures and therefore need to address increasingly complex social issues. Citizens from different cultural backgrounds need to feel accepted, as well as being represented and having the right to participate in democratic processes.
Diversity and equality should therefore be the drivers of the next European Agenda for Culture.