European Capital of Culture
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European Capital of Culture

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A European Capital of Culture is a city designated by the European Union (EU) for a period of one calendar year during which it organises a series of cultural events with a strong pan-European dimension.

Preparing a European Capital of Culture can be an opportunity for the city to generate considerable cultural, social and economic benefits and it can help foster urban regeneration, change the city's image and raise its visibility and profile on an international scale.

In 1985, Melina Mercouri, Greece's minister of culture, and her French counterpart Jack Lang came up with the idea of designating an annual Capital of Culture to bring Europeans closer together by highlighting the richness and diversity of European cultures and raising awareness of their common history and values. It is strongly believed that the ECoC significantly maximises social and economic benefits, especially when the events are embedded as a part of a long-term culture-based development strategy of the city and the surrounding region.[1]

The Commission of the European Union manages the title and each year the Council of Ministers of the European Union formally designates European Capitals of Culture: more than 40 cities have been designated so far.

Selection process

An international panel of cultural experts is in charge of assessing the proposals of cities for the title according to criteria specified by the European Union.

For two of the capitals each year, eligibility is open to cities in EU member states only. From 2021 and every three years thereafter, a third capital will be chosen from cities in countries that are candidates or potential candidates for membership, or in countries that are part of the European Economic Area (EEA)[2][3]- an example of the latter being Stavanger in Norway, which was a European Capital of Culture in 2008.

A 2004 study conducted for the Commission, known as the "Palmer report", demonstrated that the choice of European Capital of Culture served as a catalyst for the cultural development and the transformation of the city.[4] Consequently, the beneficial socio-economic development and impact for the chosen city are now also considered in determining the chosen cities.

Bids from five United Kingdom cities to be the 2023 Capital of Culture were disqualified in November 2017, because by 2023 the UK is no longer an EU member.[5]


The European Capital of Culture programme was initially called the European City of Culture and was conceived in 1983, by Melina Mercouri, then serving as minister of culture in Greece. Mercouri believed that at the time, culture was not given the same attention as politics and economics and a project for promoting European cultures within the member states should be pursued. The European City of Culture programme was launched in the summer of 1985 with Athens being the first title-holder. From 1985, the year when ECOC program was launched, to 2010, during this period, the European City of Culture program was renamed to European Capital of Culture.[6]

List of European Capitals of Culture

Rijeka (Croatia), the European Capital of Culture for 2020
Galway (Ireland) is the European Capital of Culture for 2020
European Capitals of Culture
Year # City Country Notes/Links
1985 Athens  Greece
1986 Florence  Italy
1987 Amsterdam  Netherlands
1988 West Berlin  West Berlin
1989 Paris  France
1990 Glasgow
1991 Dublin  Ireland
1992 Madrid  Spain
1993 Antwerp  Belgium
1994 Lisbon  Portugal
1995 Luxembourg  Luxembourg
1996 Copenhagen  Denmark
1997 Thessaloniki  Greece
1998 Stockholm  Sweden
1999 Weimar  Germany
2000 Avignon  France The year 2000, called the millennium year, was treated by the European Union in a special way, in order to emphasize the enduring heritage and contribution of European cities to the achievements of world culture and civilization. Because of that, nine locations were chosen, including two cities of states that were to join the EU on 1 May 2004.[7]
Bergen  Norway
Bologna  Italy
Brussels  Belgium
Helsinki  Finland
Kraków  Poland
Prague  Czech Republic
Reykjavík  Iceland
Santiago de Compostela  Spain
2001 Rotterdam  Netherlands
Porto  Portugal
2002 Bruges  Belgium
Salamanca  Spain
2003 Graz  Austria
2004 Genoa  Italy
Lille  France
2005 Cork  Ireland
2006 Patras  Greece
2007 Sibiu  Romania
Luxembourg  Luxembourg
2008 Liverpool  United Kingdom
Stavanger  Norway
2009 Vilnius  Lithuania
Linz  Austria Linz 2009
2010 Essen  Germany representing the Ruhr as Ruhr.2010
Istanbul  Turkey
Pécs  Hungary
2011 Turku  Finland
Tallinn  Estonia
2012 Guimarães  Portugal
Maribor  Slovenia
2013 Marseille  France Marseille-Provence 2013
Ko?ice  Slovakia
2014 Riga  Latvia
Umeå  Sweden
2015 Mons  Belgium
Plze?  Czech Republic
2016 San Sebastián  Spain
Wroc?aw  Poland Wroc?aw 2016
2017 Aarhus  Denmark Aarhus 2017
Paphos  Cyprus Pafos 2017
2018 Leeuwarden  Netherlands
Valletta  Malta Valletta 2018
2019 Matera  Italy Matera 2019
Plovdiv  Bulgaria Plovdiv 2019
2020 Rijeka  Croatia Rijeka 2020
Galway  Ireland Galway 2020
2021 1 Novi Sad  Serbia Novi Sad 2021
2022 Kaunas  Lithuania Kaunas 2022
Esch-sur-Alzette  Luxembourg Esch-sur-Alzette 2022
20231 Veszprém  Hungary Veszprém 2023
Timisoara  Romania Timisoara 2023 (Coronavirus postponement)
Eleusis  Greece Eleusis 2023 (Coronavirus postponement)
2024 1 Tartu  Estonia Tartu 2024
2 Bad Ischl  Austria Salzkammergut 2024
32 Bodø  Norway Bodø 2024
2025 Nova Gorica  Slovenia GO! 2025
Chemnitz  Germany Chemnitz 2025
2026 TBA  Slovakia application deadline: 15 December 2020[8]
potential candidate cities: Banská Bystrica,[9]Hlohovec,[10]Martin, Nitra, Pre?ov, Tren?ín,[11]Trnava,[12]?ilina,[13]
TBA  Finland TBA spring 2021[14]
shortlisted cities:[14][15]Oulu, Savonlinna, Tampere
2027 1 TBA  Latvia potential candidate cities: Kuldiga, Cesis, Daugavpils, Jurmala,[16]Liep?ja[17]
2 TBA  Portugal potential candidate cities: Aveiro, Braga,[18]Coimbra, Évora, Faro, Guarda, Leiria, Oeiras, Ponta Delgada
2028 TBA  Czech Republic potential candidate cities: Brno[19]
TBA  France potential candidate cities: Clermont-Ferrand, Rouen, Bourges
2029 TBA  Poland
TBA  Sweden
2030 1 TBA  Cyprus
2 TBA  Belgium potential candidate cities: Leuven,[20]Liège
2031 TBA  Malta potential candidate cities: Tarxien, Cottonera, Sliema, & Gozo
TBA  Spain potential candidate cities: Cáceres, Granada, Jerez de la Frontera
2032 TBA  Bulgaria
TBA  Denmark
2033 1 TBA  Netherlands
2 TBA  Italy

1 The European Capital of Culture was due to be in the UK in 2023. However, due to its decision to leave the European Union in 2016, UK cities would no longer be eligible to hold the title after 2019. The European Commission's Scotland office confirmed that this would be the case on 23 November 2017, only one week before the UK was due to announce which city would be put forward.[21] The candidate cities were Dundee,[22]Leeds, Milton Keynes,[23]Nottingham[24] and a joint bid from Northern Irish cities Belfast, Derry and Strabane.[25] This caused anger amongst the UK candidate city's bidding teams due to the short notice of the decision, and because of the amount of money they had already spent preparing their bids.[]

2 A new framework makes it possible for cities in candidate countries, potential candidates for EU membership or EFTA member states to hold the title every third year as of 2021. This will be selected through an open competition, meaning that cities from various countries may compete with each other.[8]

See also


  1. ^ Burk?ien?, V., Dvorak, J., Burbulyt?-Tsiskarishvili, G. (2018). Sustainability and Sustainability Marketing in Competing for the Title of European Capital of Culture. Organizacija, Vol. 51 (1), p. 66-78
  2. ^ "Decision No 445/2014/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014". 3 May 2014.
  3. ^ "European Capitals of Culture 2020 to 2033 -- A guide for cities preparing to bid" (PDF). European Commission.
  4. ^ Palmer, Robert (2004) "European Cities and Capitals of Culture" Part I. Part II. Study prepared for the European Commission
  5. ^ "Brexit blow to UK 2023 culture crown bids". BBC News. 23 November 2017. Retrieved 2017.
  6. ^ Kiran Klaus Patel, ed., The Cultural Politics of Europe: European Capitals of Culture and European Union since the 1980s (London: Routledge, 2013)
  7. ^ Association of European Cities of Culture of the Year 2000
  8. ^ a b "European Capitals of Culture". European Union. 5 June 2015. Retrieved 2015.
  9. ^ "Banská Bystrica sa bude uchádza? o titul Európske hlavné mesto kultúry 2026" [Banská Bystrica will apply for the title of European Capital of Culture 2026]. (in Slovak). 1 May 2020. Retrieved 2020.
  10. ^ "Hlohovec chce by? Európske hlavné mesto kultúry 2026" [Hlohovec wants to be the European Capital of Culture in 2026]. (in Slovak). 30 April 2020. Retrieved 2020.
  11. ^ "Tren?ín sa chce sta? Európskym hlavným mestom kultúry" [Tren?ín wants to be the European Capital of Culture]. (in Slovak). 1 June 2020.
  12. ^ "Trnava má záujem uchádza? sa o titul Európske hlavné mesto kultúry v roku 2026" [Trnava is interested in applying for the title of European Capital of Culture in 2026]. (in Slovak). 28 April 2020. Retrieved 2020.
  13. ^ "?ilina sa chce uchádza? o Európske hlavné mesto kultúry 2026" [?ilina wants to apply for the European Capital of Culture 2026]. (in Slovak). 20 February 2020. Retrieved 2020.
  14. ^ a b "Three cities short-listed for European Capital of Culture 2026 in Finland". European Commission. July 2020. Retrieved 2020.
  15. ^ "Three cities in Finland bidding for title of the 2026 European Capital of Culture". Ministry of Education and Culture. Retrieved 2020.
  16. ^ "J?rmala start?s titula "Eiropas kult?ras galvaspils?ta 2027" ieganai". Retrieved 2020.
  17. ^ "Liepaja to put its name to become European Capital of Culture in 2027". The Baltic Course. Retrieved 2020.
  18. ^ "RUM". Retrieved 2017.
  19. ^ "Brno Steps Up Preparations For 2028 European Capital of Culture Bid". Retrieved 2019.
  20. ^ "Leuven stelt zich kandidaat als Europese Culturele Hoofdstad 2030". Retrieved 2017.
  21. ^ Brady, Jon (23 November 2017). "Brexit destroys Dundee's hopes of being European Capital of Culture in 2023". Evening Telegraph. Retrieved 2017.
  22. ^ Lorimer, Scott. "The latest news and sport from Dundee, Tayside and Fife". Evening Telegraph. Retrieved 2017.
  23. ^ "European Capital of Culture". Milton Keynes Council. Archived from the original on 6 June 2017. Retrieved 2016.
  24. ^ "Nottingham 2023".
  25. ^ Meredith, Robbie (5 July 2017). "NI councils make bid for European Capital of Culture title". BBC News. Retrieved 2017.

External links

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