During the last plenary session of the Committee of Regions (CoR), that took place on 15th and 16th February 2012, the future of the European Capitals of Culture has been discussed. The draft opinion presented by Anton Rombouts, the CoR Rapporteur on this dossier, has been voted.
The European Commission is currently working on a new framework for the European Capitals of Culture programme (ECOC) after 2019. The CoR supports the idea that the ECOC instrument should continue after 2020, and suggests that it should be broadened: the content of the programme should be more open to other, non-European cultures and partners to highlight the value and richness of European cultures even more effectively.
The dossier underlines that would-be capitals of culture must draw up a program that creates a positive impact for the surrounding region. In the preparatory phase, at administrative level, cultural producers in the leisure sector, in tourism and related sectors have to cooperate to guarantee a real impact of the award at regional level.
The CoR recognises that the title of ECOC is awarded for one specific year and recalls the importance of placing the activities in a multiannual context and making them part of a long-term policy, in cultural, economic, social and spatial development terms.
ECOC is one of the most successful EU programmes; it should continue after 2020 as it is a vehicle for economic, social and cultural development for the host city and the surrounding region as well as for the candidate cities.