European Dialogue

In Europe the notion of homogeneous cultures neatly separated and parceled within state boundaries always needed qualification. Today it is being challenged not only by globalisation but also by migration on a scale that many European countries did not expect. This has given a new dimension to the debate on culture and identity within the European Union that is at the heart of the EU’s Year of Inter-Cultural Dialogue, 2008.
The IWA has just published Europe: United or Divided by Culture? by Anthony Everitt, an author and cultural consultant. In the publication he reflects on a series of seminars – arranged by the European Cultural Foundation’s UK Committee (now Forum) and Royal Institute of International Affairs – that explored the place of culture in the development of European identity and citizenship. He considers, also, the economic aspects of culture. In Wales the creative industries are very important.

The need for shared culture should not only be a concern for EU policy-makers. Culture encompasses many of the challenges facing Wales and Europe: the co-operation and potential tension between traditional European culture and absorbed cultures; and the need for cultural specificity, one of the challenges that Wales is considering in the fields of governance (the National Assembly and Assembly Government), media and broadcasting and the Welsh language.

The EU’s cultural policies aim at a moving target: states across Europe are altering, owing to national movements; and the demographic and cultural make-up of the EU is constantly changing. In addition, there is a need for shared approaches to international issues, such as trade, terrorism and climate change. As the author himself concludes: “If the European Union is to win the hearts and minds of the population it serves, it must transform itself from a top-down institution into a popular movement.”

Europe: United or Divided by Culture? is by Anthony Everitt and is published in Wales by the Institute of Welsh Affairs. Price £8/€12.

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