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Home arrow Political science arrow Cultural Governance and the European Union: Protecting and Promoting Cultural Diversity in Europe


The Cultural Agenda has revamped member states' cultural cooperation, instituting, through the cultural OMC, a framework for policy dialogue that is meant to inform policy-making and direct national and EU policy interest towards specific topics. Besides analytical policy accounts, the cultural OMC has produced a number of recommendations for national and European policy-makers as well as the cultural sector.

A key issue, of course, is follow-up action and the ability of the cultural OMC to exert an influence on national and EU policy-making. Varying degrees of national engagement with the process, owing to its voluntary nature, differences in national policy development and dissimilar levels of expertise and connectivity to domestic policy-makers of the WG participants can have a strong bearing on the impact of the cultural OMC on national cultural policies. The quality and clarity of the recommendations produced for national and EU policy-makers is also crucial. With a view to facilitating robust, evidence-based policy suggestions, the information gathering component of the activity of the OMC WGs could be facilitated by the Commission, through existing data and commissioned studies, as well as regular input from the SD platforms (ECORYS, 2013: 43 and 45), which could also strengthen the openness of the process to a wider range of interests and viewpoints. Better planning in terms of disseminating the OMC results could also receive consideration (ibid.: 42). The Council could play a key role in this respect through the promotion of well-defined dissemination and communication strategies on behalf of national ministries, whereas the SD platforms could become directly involved in debating the OMC results with civil society at the national/regional level. Moreover, structured dialogue between the EU institutions and reinforced inter-service coordination within the Commission could facilitate the diffusion of the OMC policy suggestions at the EU level.

Even so, it is clear that insights into the experiences of other cultural systems can rarely be readily translated into domestic policy change.

The transformation of ideas and acquired knowledge into new initiatives commonly involves some degree of reinterpretation and adjustment in order to adapt findings to institutional legacies and own frames of reference, provided that there is political will for reform. This is also the case as regards the uptake of the recommendations of the cultural OMC at the EU level. Whereas certain attempts have been made to connect the OMC findings to the latest EU cultural programme, Creative Europe (European Parliament and Council, 2013a),6 the cultural OMC does not appear to have had a marked impact on the formulation of the EU cultural policy thus far. This is even more so in the case of EU policies, other than culture, that present cultural implications and could therefore draw from the pool of knowledge produced.

Overall, the cultural OMC presents a unique opportunity for policy development through mutual learning. Whether such an opportunity will be grasped depends on due note taken of national cultural policy variation when formulating the OMC policy recommendations, effective channels established for spreading the OMC results at the national and EU levels, and the type and adequacy of synergies created between the cultural OMC, national cultural policies and EU policies. In the absence of steps and follow-up mechanisms adding weight to and guiding both the EU institutions and the member states on what precisely there is there to 'learn', the cultural OMC risks proving a bureaucratic process of limited policy influence.

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