Pietro Celotti, Maria Giulia Settanni, Nicola Brignani, Andrea Gramillano

Is culture a key factor in the European Union's macro-regional strategies?

  • Abstract

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Keywords: EU Macro-Regional Strategies; Adriatic-Ionian Region; Cohesion Policy; Foreign Policy; Soft Power; Culture; Cultural Diplomacy.

This article explores the role that culture plays - or could play - in European macro-regional strategies, with particular emphasis on the European Union Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR). Underpinning the analysis is an assumption that EUSAIR works both towards the aims of territorial balance, and towards foreign policy objectives. Within EUSAIR, the role of culture is almost exclusively linked to tourism: when cooperation in the cultural sector is mentioned, it is in the context of a further utilisation of cultural heritage to promote tourism. Similarly, regarding the wider picture of cohesion policy, culture appears only as a resource to be preserved and promoted under the chapter of 'natural and cultural heritage' and in the light of tourism development. By contrast, EUSAIR's foreign policy stance calls for an assessment of culture as an instrument of EU enlargement policy. This article finds that culture, in the form of cultural diplomacy, might be a useful «soft» power tool. However, this would require participating EU member states to provide stronger political leadership.

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