European Capitals of Culture across state borders. Challenges and actions for cross-border urban cohesion.Authors: LAMOUR Christian, DURAND Frédéric.
Nation-states and European authorities have always highlighted culture and identity issues during key phases of the extension or internal transformation of the European Union (EU). The European Capital of the Culture initiative (ECoC), created in 1985, was defined in one particular period of the political building-up of the EU, characterized by the two parallel processes: enlargement (towards Southern Mediterranean countries) and intensified economic de-bordering (the signing of the Single European Act). This period was also a moment of affirmation of third tiers political powers in Europe from regions to cities, the recognition of which will experience highs and lows in the decades to come. The ECoC initiative has seen its modalities and purposes evolve over time. Four series of transformations can be identified. First, there has been a progressive downscaling of cities that has become ECoCs: from major international urban centers such as Athens and Paris to more modest urban areas like Mons and Aarhus. Second, and in particular since the Glasgow 1990 event, the ECoC initiative has been increasingly used as a driver of urban regeneration within a changing European and global environment, leading to intensified economic competition between cities. Third, the annual cultural programme associated with the ECoC has been transformed with organisers being willing to broaden the audience beyond its formerly elite basis, by offering a diversified cultural programme. Finally, a growing number of ECoCs have been planned in the Europe borderlands. The organization of ECoCs in this specific spatial setting can be instrumental in the EU construction at the cross-border level. The current article presents, firstly, the challenges associated with the ECoC programme being considered as a potential tool of the cross-border integration in Europe, and secondly, the actions to be taken to secure this role of the ECoC initiative.
Reference: LAMOUR Christian, DURAND Frédéric. European Capitals of Culture across state borders. Challenges and actions for cross-border urban cohesion. In: Wolgang Schneider and Kristina Jacobsen (Eds.) Transforming Cities. Paradigms and potentials of urban development within the "European Capital of Culture". Universitätsverlag Hidelsheim/Georg Olms Verlag, 2019, pp. 41-50.Keywords: