Table 7: Peace and culture: tools for strengthening the European Project

Draft Conclusions

The panel looked at peace and culture within the EU and at external relations. It took advantage of input from numerous participants.

1. Peace and culture within the EU

  • Peace is not only the absence of war and is not always a gentle process; it can be tough sometimes. Tensions can remain, and creativity can come from those tensions.
  • Peace is also how we understand each other, the state of civil rights, social dialogue in particular for a society that has dramatically changed in the last 20 years.
  • Within the EU, peace should not be taken for granted as illustrated by Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Belgium and Catalonia. If the EU wants to be credible in promoting peace-building, it has to start by itself.
  • Culture should be for everybody and should be inclusive (migrants, diversity). There is general agreement that intercultural dialogue should be regarded as one important component of peace. In this context, integrated education is an important tool, particularly in societies marked by conflicts.
  • History education in Europe is important and should not lose its relevance. On the contrary, history should be taught in a multicultural and European context.
  • Too many people are seduced by a negative narrative that goes against a positive narrative on peace and culture. This is particularly detrimental to migrants and local communities, whose inclusion should be sought. The EU should speak up and provide positive examples by using inter-cultural symbols and projects, and as an antidote to any negative narrative. More funding should be allocated to culture at EU level (Multiannual Financial Framework) and Member States' level.

2. Peace and culture in EU external relations

  • Peace-building and peace-keeping are soft power.
  • Because of history and current relations, European culture is broader than that of the EU and the European continent.
  • The EU has not always been very successful at building peace abroad, because the EU is not structured in such a way as to keep peace and prevent wars. Rather, the EU acts when conflicts are already under way. Today, EU diplomacy and defence policies are national, not European.
  • The EU has the legitimacy to put forward and promote its values.
  • More finance should be put into peace-building within defence and security budgets.
  • The role of women in peace-building should be recognised and promoted.
  • Culture is important in a broader geographical context and could be given a more prominent role in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • At multicultural level and in external relations, culture can also be an antidote to fake news, falsification of history and propaganda. Currently, the EU is not doing enough to counter these phenomena, particularly when they originate in third countries.

Panel's recommendations

  • The EU must invest more in symbolic projects, such as the WhiteDoveWay, the Ode à la joie competition, cultural routes.
  • More funding is needed for peace and culture.
  • The EESC shall open up its membership to cultural CSOs in its next term.

Chair: Jane Morrice (EESC Member)
Rapporteur: Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović (Secretary General of Europa Nostra)