The EESC October plenary hosted a debate on rEUnaissance - A cultural vision for Europe.

Opening the debate, EESC president Luca Jahier welcomed the fact that Emmanuel Macron had embraced his idea of a Renaissance for Europe. "We should not forget that our continent was a cultural area before it was a political idea, and such an area does not imply homogeneity, but thrives on variation and movement."

Andre Wilkens, director of the European Cultural Foundation, stated that culture could be misused to divide communities, becoming a threat to European integration. "We should not underestimate the power of culture to make a difference", agreed Pier Luigi Sacco, special adviser to European Commissioner Tibor Navracsics, explaining how culture could be a driver for change by making people less worried about the unknown.

Elke Kaschl Mohni, director of the Goethe Institute in Brussels, referred to the role of culture in external relations and placed the focus on fairness and people-to-people exchanges. "The aim of cultural relations is to strengthen trust and understanding", she said. Lastly, Airan Berg, artistic director of the Festival of the Regions, explained how culture and art could make people move out of their comfort zone.

Mr Jahier concluded that culture should be a priority in policy-making and suggested setting up a new body at the EESC to deal with cultural issues. (sma)