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EU-ACP cooperation: A strengthened partnership

On 3 December, the EU and the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) reached a political agreement on the text of a new partnership agreement to succeed Cotonou. The new agreement recognizes culture among the areas of cooperation.

The agreement will now have to be approved, signed and ratified by the parties. It will cover a wide range of areas, from development and sustainable growth to human rights, peace and security; will focus on implementation based on regional priorities and will guide political and economic relations between the EU and the 79 members of the OACPS for the next twenty years.

Jutta Urpilainen[1], Commissioner for International Partnerships and EU chief negotiator, said: “Today’s agreement is a step towards a new era for the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific states. The people of these four regions of the world will benefit from this ambitious agreement, which will enable us to better address new realities and challenges as global players.

Culture as a driving force for sustainable development: the EU-ACP partnership offers new opportunities

We all know, and have felt it particularly in this year struck by COVID-19, how much the lack of cultural activities creates a lack in our daily life. The cultural and creative industries have shown exceptional adaptability in the face of the crisis and should continue to make progress in the future, as they play a pioneering role in the field of digital innovation.

The ACP-EU Culture Programme has been designed, jointly with the Secretariat of the Organisation of ACP States, to sustainably strengthen the potential of the sector, ensure a better understanding of the economic and social role it can play and thus stimulate entrepreneurship and self-reliance by boosting creativity.

Within the ACP countries, more and more young artistic and creative talents are emerging and have tremendous potential. Cultural expressions such as music, dance, theatre, storytelling are an integral part of their daily lives and should constitute for the new generations a wide range of jobs (technicians, managers, programmers) and local initiatives/enterprises (labels, festivals, studios). Yet the formal production and circulation of works remains extremely limited and the restrictive measures taken, following the pandemic, have further reduced the opportunities for cultural actors.

The ACP-EU Culture Programme aims, through innovative mechanisms, to provide new opportunities for these young people to flourish, enable them to embark on entrepreneurship, make them efficient in the use of new technologies to promote better access to markets and ensure their recognition on the international scene.

Thanks to the new decentralized management system, six regional consortia, detailed in this brochure, will launch annual calls for proposals and thus multiply the funding opportunities which will be published on the website ACP-EU Culture.  The programme will be closer to the grassroots, will be able to target the needs of each region to better support local entrepreneurship and make it sustainable.

I therefore invite you to take a look at this brochure for more information on the opportunities offered and to register on the Culture Exchange platform.

From the European Year of Cultural Heritage in 2018 to the Year of Culture, Arts and Heritage: levers for Africa’s development in 2021

The recognition of culture is gaining momentum on several international and regional agendas. After the success and numerous follow-ups inspired by the European Year of Cultural Heritage in 2018, the Executive Council of the African Union has designated 2021 as the year of “Culture, Arts, Heritage: levers for Africa’s development”. This year, which will take place under the rotating presidency of the African Union held by the Democratic Republic of Congo, is an opportunity for the EU and its African partners to reflect on the contribution of culture in their partnership.

At the very beginning of this new year, Josep Borrell, our Vice-President and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said: “We want to give a new impetus to the partnership between the EU and Africa in 2021. Culture and cultural exchanges must become an essential part of this”.

The need to work more in partnership and to co-create is the key to a new impetus we want to give to international cooperation. This vision is shared by our partners. Recently, at a meeting on culture in international partnerships organised by the European Commission, Joy Mboya, Director of the GoDown Arts Center, Kenya, stressed the need for long-term partnerships based on mission and values and relying on local needs, rather than on project results alone.

The co-creation and cross-distribution partnership also includes EU Member States through the Team Europe approach, which combines the expertise of the different actors. By joining forces, we want to focus on the long-term sustainability of cultural organisations, on creating a favourable environment for cultural entrepreneurs and thus make them independent.




Author: Henriette Geiger, Director of Human Development, European Commission

Photo: Henriette Geiger, @Twitter

[1] European Union,




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