Cultivating Europe’s Cultural Tapestry: A Vision for Unity, Resilience, and Electoral Influence

07 December 2023 /

5 min

The influence of cultural and creative industries is recognised as a powerful engine for the triple transformation—green, social, and digital.

In the ever-evolving landscape of European geopolitics, the question of the EU’s future takes centre stage. Beyond political alliances and economic strategies, a resounding call echoes — a call to embrace the unifying power of culture and cultural heritage.  

As we stand at the threshold of the 2024 European elections, this article seeks to both propose and explore some recommendations that chart a course for a future where Europe’s cultural tapestry is not just celebrated, but becomes the very foundation of its strength and global influence. At the heart of this political endeavour lies a profound exploration of the sense of belonging that binds diverse cultures together. The upcoming election is more than a political exercise; it is a reflection of the cultural tapestry that weaves nations into a cohesive whole, fostering a sense of belonging that goes beyond borders and ballots. In 2024, the ballot boxes become not just a medium for political expression, but a canvas upon which the collective identity, heritage, and shared values of the European people are painted.

Cultural Kaleidoscope: The Diverse Shades of Culture in the European Union

At the core of this insight is the consideration of culture as an umbrella concept, implying various facets depending on the perspective adopted and exemplified by the intrinsic nature of the EU itself; here, the motto of “Unity in Diversity” resonates. The visions are diverse and colourful. This underlines the central role of cultural unity as a cornerstone to fortify the EU amidst the complexities of geopolitical uncertainties

The deliberate focus on culture and heritage aims to instil a deep sense of belonging, resilience and unity among the different nations of the EU. This implies the necessity to expand the EU’s role in the promotion and enhancement of culture, but also to encourage collaborative efforts with Member States on crucial issues such as protection, excellence, sustainability and (im)mobility.

Within this framework, there is a renewed emphasis on the active involvement of civil society, where their engagement in shaping narratives is seen as essential, recognising the transformative power of the collective voice, echoing from local to European levels, in shaping and preserving the cultural tapestry of the region. Furthermore, the acknowledgment of cultural and creative sectors as vital ecosystems implies a call for proactive policies and substantial financial support, ensuring their resilience and leveraging their vibrant contributions to the social and economic sustainability of Europe. 

Moreover, the importance of non-formal education is stressed as a means to cultivate a profound understanding of cultural heritage, serving as a bridge connecting past, present, and future generations. Such a shared responsibility for preserving and celebrating Europe’s rich cultural heritage is seen as crucial. Harmonising cultural efforts with environmental sustainability is envisioned as a collaborative effort, drawing on creativity to innovate solutions aligned with the European Green Deal and the Paris Agreement. By integrating cultural perspectives into green policies, the EU aims not only to address environmental challenges while reinforcing the interconnectedness of cultural and ecological well-being.

The influence of cultural and creative industries is recognised as a powerful engine for the triple transformation—green, social, and digital. Establishing common and ambitious standards for working conditions within this sector is crucial, ensuring its growth as a driver for socio-economic development, inclusive prosperity, and the overall well-being of EU citizens.

Urgent efforts to protect and restore cultural heritage, particularly in conflict-affected regions like Ukraine, underscore the EU’s commitment to upholding cultural values in the face of adversity. The financial, human, and material support deemed essential for these endeavours serves as acts of solidarity, underscoring the EU’s dedication to preserving the invaluable sites affected by geopolitical challenges.

The extension of the EU’s influence beyond borders through prioritising culture and cultural heritage in external relations emphasises the utilisation of cultural diplomacy. This strategic approach enhances the EU’s soft power, fostering positive international relations and contributing to a more interconnected and culturally enriched global landscape. The vision sees Europe taking a leading role in preventing heritage destruction globally and spearheading restoration initiatives, projecting a shared identity that transcends national borders in the global arena. As a consequence, the core of this vision lies in the integration of culture and cultural heritage into the EU’s enlargement and neighbourhood strategy. By prioritising cultural diversity and a spirit of cosmopolitanism, Europe can forge global partnerships that transcend political boundaries. This strategic integration in enlargement and neighbourhood not only aims at strengthening the EU’s diplomatic outreach but also fosters mutual understanding, tolerance, and cooperation, laying the groundwork for a more peaceful and interconnected world.

To encapsulate this forward-thinking approach, culture and cultural heritage are positioned not merely as relics of the past, but as dynamic influences shaping the trajectory of Europe’s future. As Europe grapples with uncertainties, these recommendations provide a roadmap — a guide where cultural unity serves as the guiding light leading the EU toward resilience, inclusivity, and global leadership.

The Path to the 2024 European Elections: The Need for a More Cultural Agenda Unveiled

Europe is preparing for the 2024 parliamentary elections with the aim of promoting unity in diversity, considering it the beauty and proof of European civilisation. With over 400 million voters involved, the importance of embracing cultural diversity as a key element is recognised. The promotion of European values through culture is seen as fundamental to designing policies that foster social enrichment and cohesion between citizens. This approach supports an inclusive dialogue, contributing to a more united and supportive environment and could positively influence active participation during elections, promoting a genuine commitment to building a cohesive and inclusive European society.

But before focusing on the elections themselves, an invitation should be extended to Members of the European Parliament, members of political parties, and candidates. An invitation to embrace and recognise the key role of culture by incorporating it into their cultural campaigns. The pre-election period marks a crucial moment to promote new political narratives that emphasise the collective sense of identity and belonging to the richness of the European Union. Thus, especially in the midst of tangible concerns about challenges that could undermine shared values, rights, and the essence of the European path, the call for a robust cultural dimension in political programs resonates as a unifying force.

Therefore, it is imperative to consider drawing on European symbolism to develop a new strategy with a more cultural agenda. It involves removing all superstructures to rediscover one’s roots at a time when Europe faces substantial changes in the geopolitical landscape and addresses internal issues, integrating cultural values inherent to Europeanism into political-electoral discourse. The goal is to demonstrate the EU’s dedication to promoting values such as democracy, mutual understanding, and intercultural dialogue, which captivate citizens, especially in a crucial moment when war has returned and is a more tangible risk than ever. The ensuing debate aims to embrace the acceptance of the plurality of multiple identities in the European context. Incorporating culture into the political agenda means recognising its ability to connect people through shared values, common traditions, and shared cultural experiences. It also emphasises the recognition of diversity as enrichment rather than a source of division.

This issue remains among the significant considerations of the present, encompassing reflections on migratory phenomena and the potential expansion of European borders, leading to necessary processes of integration. Culture would not only provide a common ground where citizens from different European countries could identify with, but could also contribute to mitigating tensions related to phenomena such as migration and discussions on the expansion of European borders. In summary, prioritising culture in the political agenda in light of EU 2024 is not only an act of recognising the richness of cultural diversity but also a pragmatic step towards building a stronger and more resilient European community capable of facing future challenges with a solid foundation of mutual understanding and shared identity.

Maicon Bellavia is a master student at the Institute of European Studies.

(Edited by Luka Krauss)

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