Dear Prime Minister Rutte,
The European Cultural Foundation (ECF), based in Amsterdam but with partner organisations in more than 50 countries, calls upon the Netherlands, the other EU Member States and the President of the European Council to:
· Mainstream culture across the EU’s Strategic Agenda 2019-2024
· Appoint a Commission President who invests in a 21st century Europe – with culture at its core – committed to defend a liberal, people-centred and rules-based Europe
The battle of Europe is being fought not with tanks and missiles, but with ideas, narratives, bots and social media. The EU needs to be defended from attacks that create a divided Europe, narratives that put national identity and national culture first. We need a defense strategy for a 21st century Europe – with culture and strategic communication at its very core. We must defend a liberal, people-centered, rules-based Europe, and invest in a Europe that breaks down national echo-chambers.
On 20 June, when you will discuss Europe’s new Strategic Agenda 2019-2024, we are calling on you to put culture not only on the agenda but make it a priority for Europe. As culture contributes to all the four priorities – varying from protecting citizens and freedom to developing a strong and sustainable economy, climate and most of all to European values on the global stage[i].
We need to do this not only with warm words but through concrete political decisions and actions, serious investment and legislation. Europe needs Commissioners, and especially the next Commission President, who can defend a vision of Europe that creates identity, community and a narrative for the future. Culture is essential to realize this vision and to upgrade “unity in diversity” from a slogan to a lived reality.
Culture is a European priority. Culture is much more than a “nice to have” or an accessory. Culture is essential for the survival of European unity today.
[i] the investment in culture is a necessary step to build a Europe “where citizens have new opportunities for cultural and social development” and “a Union which preserves our cultural heritage and promotes cultural diversity” as pledged in the Rome declaration of 2017. The value of cultural diversity and freedom of artistic expression is increasingly challenged in Europe and must be actively promoted in accordance to Art. 2, 6, 21, 49 TEU, Art. 167 TFEU and Art. 13 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.