What is More Europe?
Based on best-practice evidence and research, MORE EUROPE is a cultural civic initiative whose aim is to highlight and reinforce the role of culture in the European Union (EU)’s external relations. It calls on Member States, civil society and EU institutions to work together, combine their views, pool their resources and coordinate their activities. Being a relatively small initiative, MORE EUROPE acts as an avant-garde on the topic – with a strong civic approach allowing flexibility and reactivity. It was launched at a high-level event in Brussels on December 8, 2011.
Modern diplomacy requires the development of new thinking and skills to face global challenges and changing societies. MORE EUROPE is a new approach towards external cultural relations, based on the promotion of fundamental values, two-way dialogue, and the recognition of the critical role of civil society in strengthening relations between countries. To this end, cultural relations, exchanges, cooperation and people-to-people engagement are crucial for the EU´s foreign policy. Culture – in its broadest sense – plays an important role in shaping our views in the world as well as influencing our international relations. Cultural relations are fundamental drivers of economic, social and sustainable human development, strengthening civil society capacities and reinforcing democratisation processes. Cultural relations also support conflict prevention and reconciliation, build trust between people, and pave the way for intercultural cooperation in difficult settings.
MORE EUROPE is focused on three main strands:
A debate strand raising awareness about the importance of culture in the EU’s external relations and triggering discussion between two spheres that hardly ever meet and interact: artists and cultural operators on the one hand, foreign policymakers and diplomats on the other. Six debates have been organised in six different European capitals in 2012: Berlin on May 2, Paris on May 23, Copenhagen on June 13, Amsterdam on September 19, Warsaw on November 19, and a "end-of-a-year" event held in Brussels on December 4. Each of these debates tackled the issue of external cultural relations with a different angle.
A research strand aiming at providing new directions and concrete ways of achieving the main objectives of the initiative. MORE EUROPE has conducted a study, providing information about the state of play and the lessons learnt from European external cultural actions and proposing concrete measures, models and pilot projects for an enhanced cultural dimension in the EU’s external cultural relations.
An advocacy strand: regular meetings, discussions and exchanges have taken place between MORE EUROPE's representatives and high-level officials from EU institutions. MORE EUROPE is increasingly referred to in the official papers of different EU institutions, as well as in the speeches of EU Commissioners and high-level officials.
The way forward
The main reasons for continuing the initiative are:
- Maintaining momentum on the advocacy strand and stepping up concrete pilot actions;
- The need to continue the study and test concrete options and pilot projects;
- Sharing and debating with third-country policymakers and stakeholders;
- Making the process as democratic and informed as possible and involve the civil society.