For the EESC, Culture has an important role to play in the current global political environment, in which the respect of human rights, tolerance, cooperation and mutual solidarity are once more under threat.
The EESC now calls for a step forward, from a text "towards an EU strategy" to the adoption and subsequent implementation of a clear strategy and action plan. The action plan should respond to four structural necessities: providing clarity of governance at EU level; seeking to coordinate and offer subsidiary support at Member State level; clarifying financial aspects; and promoting networks of interrelated cultural players, representing a thriving cultural civil society.
So as to enable the full recognition of the importance of culture to sustainability, the EESC calls for culture to be recognised as a fourth pillar of sustainable development, on an equal footing with the economic, social and environmental pillars.
The EESC welcomes the fact that culture is acknowledged as a crucial foundation for peace and stability. Culture is therefore of key importance in furthering the main aim of the European Union: to "promote peace, its values and the well-being of its peoples" (Article 3 TEU). The EESC therefore calls on the EU, based on Europe's own experience, to take its place as a global leader in the practice, protection and promotion of peace worldwide.
The EESC underlines the importance of civil society as protagonists in a sustainable society and in the development of all initiatives in the field of culture. The EU should therefore invest in supporting the development of a structured civil society in the cultural field.
Culture in external relations cannot be seen as neutral and independent of the political context of the countries involved. Both historic and present-day examples demonstrate the possible misuse and manipulation of culture to nourish an authoritarian, populist or other political agenda. Therefore, while culture in EU exchanges certainly serves an agenda, it is important to underline that, contrary to propaganda, EU exchanges allow for the views of multiple stakeholders and pluralistic approaches.