European Capitals of CultureΠοιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Selection of cities until 2019


Until 2019, rules for selecting European Capitals of Culture are laid down in decision 1622/20061, which will expire in 2019. In July 2012, the Commission submitted a proposal (12558/12) to continue this initiative beyond 2019. Since more than one city declares itself to be a candidate for the title, they enter a competition. The number of cities varies according to country e.g. while in Italy for 2019, there were originally 21 cities, Malta has but Valletta and thus no competition was held. The latter case applied as well in Greece until the nomination of the last city, namely Patras 2006. This applies as well to Luxembourg or for that matter to a member state where the central state plays an over dominant role. The competition is looked upon as a healthy sign as it vitalizes many cities especially with regards to their respective cultural sectors.


Competition between cities until 2019

The Member States of the European Union were invited to host the European Capital of Culture event in turn between 2005 and 2019 under an agreement which held until 2019. After that a new procedure is in effect.

The order, given below, was decided in agreement with the Member States and laid down in the Decision on the European Capital of Culture 2007-19 – 1622/2006/EC

2007 Luxembourg and Romania


2008 United Kingdom

2009 Austria and Lithuania

2010 Germany and Hungary

2011 Finland and Estonia

2012 Portugal and Slovenia

2013 France and Slovakia

2014 Sweden and Latvia

2015 Belgium and Czech Republic

2016 Spain and Poland

2017 Denmark and Cyprus

2018 Netherlands and Malta

2019 Italy and Bulgaria


Selection process for 2016 in Spain and Poland

For 2016 there was announced on 30.9.2010 in the case of Spain the short-list of cities who made it further than the first round consisting of 15 cities. The cities now preparing more fully their bid are Burgos, Córdoba, San Sebastián, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Segovia and Zaragoza. Malaga was one of the cities which did not make it. In the final end, San Sebastian made it.

As for Poland, from the final five cities - Gdansk, Warszawa, Lublin, Katowice and Wroclaw - Wroclaw made it.

For the final report of this selection procedure see


Selection process for 2017 in Denmark and Cyprus

In Denmark both Aarhus and Sonderborg made it into the second round. In the final end Aarhus was selected.

In Cyprus after a competition between three cities, namely Limassol, Paphos and Nicosia, the city of Paphos was chosen.

For more information provided by the European Commission, see:


Selection Procedure for 2018 in Malta and Holland

For Malta, Valletta was chosen already at the end of 2012, while for Holland it meant the following:

A jury was appointed for European Capital of Culture 2018 in Holland by Secretary of State Zijlstra (Education, Culture and Science). He appointed the following Dutch jury members who are to advise on the designation of the European Capital of Culture 2018: Christine de Baan, Margot Gerené, Dingeman Kuilman, Nynke Stellingsma, Janneke van der Wijk and Rutger Wolfson.

Seven members have also been appointed by European institutions (the European Parliament, Council of Ministers, European Commission and the Committee of the Regions): Constantin Chiriac (Romania), Manfred Gaulhofer (Austria), Steve Green (UK), Erna Hennicot-Schoepges (Luxemburg), Sir Jeremy Isaacs (UK), Jordi Pardo Rodriguez (Spain) and Elisabeth Vitouch (Austria).

In the autumn of 2012, the jury pre-selected the candidate cities, and in the autumn of 2013 was then Leeuwarden was recommend as the one city to have the title to the Secretary of State.

In May 2014, the EU Ministers of Culture (the EYC-Council) will designate the European Capital of Culture.

There were 5 candidates in the initial round: The Hague, Eindhoven, Leeuwarden, Maastricht and Utrecht.

In the final round there were the following three cities: Eindhoven, Leeuwarden and Maastricht

SICA provided the logistical support for the selection process. For more information please contact Robert Kieft.

While everyone was surprised that Utrecht did not make it into the short list, the final selection designated the title to Leeuwarden and therefore surprised especially the people of Eindhoven. 

Candidates must fulfil three main criteria: integrating a true European dimension, reinforcing cooperation among EU countries with the support of the public and highlighting the role of the city in the formation and development of culture in Europe.

Successful candidates must also devise a programme with a lasting impact that contributes to the long-term cultural, economic and social development of the city concerned.

Leeuwarden will realize its programme parallel to Valletta in Malta as the two European Capitals of Culture for 2018.


Selection Procedure for 2019 in Italy and Bulgaria

There were competing altogether 21 Italian cities for the title, five of which were placed on the short list after the jury came to a decision in October 2013. These five cities are Ravenna, Siena, Lecce, Perugia, Matera and Cagliari. Finally, Matera was chosen.

In Bulgaria, there were besides Plovdiv, Sofia and Varna competing. A pre-selection took place in December 2013. In 1914 Plovdiv was selected.


One wonders why a city has been chosen to be European Capital of Culture, even though its needs are not so clear and it can be predicted thast the city shall not use the historical opportunity given by having been designated the title.

An artistic programme which faces the challenges would further reflections throughout the entire year. This would mean the arts can and do provide ways to foresee in which direction society is heading. It becomes predictable once society becomes completely dependent upon technology, more specifically communication technology. This was already signaled in the concept of Bologna 2000 with Umberto Eco providing some literary and philosophical justifications for that interpretation of culture.

A closer look needs to be taken if that interpretation rests not on a misunderstanding of culture once reduced to everything being just about communication.

Cornelius Castoriadis pointed out that technology is no longer just a tool, but has become a 'theory of society'. The displacement of a concept of society shows the way ahead and how society shall organize itself.

If that is the case, culture as reflection would be sidelined or else rather end up being misused as producer of all kinds of gimmicks. The latter are deployed to bring about not a closer relation to life, but rather further enhancements of virtual reality. Such a society would make available 'content producers'. According to Finnish Minister of Culture, Suvi Linden attending the 5th of May 'Day of Culture' gathering in Athens 2000, these 'content producers' would not be a critical force to distinguish the real from the virtual. Rather they would induce such a logic which seems capable to replace reality by something more than what could have been ever managed before, namely to give to the individual the illusion of being in his or her own private space and still able to communicate with the entire world as if one big public space.

The agglomeration of images sets the tone. The mosaic that follows is not a real reflection of the shambles everyone shall be in, but reminds the individual of being dependent upon the others to have any meaning at all - just like the single mosaic stone.

The final destiny may be as Umberto Eco attempted to un-scribe it in the 'Name of the Rose' an undoing of forbidden books kept till then in a hidden library. The latter betrays the intention to keep things as far away as possible from the general public which should never get to know these things. He inserted with that remark the existence of a magical trick which prompts a belief in some Machiavellian type of governance. The latter is not based on a lie, but on the ability to keep certain things 'secret'. Although their existence is known to many, it has nevertheless a most powerful influence since the threat to reveal something can hang over people like a sword ready to fall faster than the guillotine.

If anything it does remind that the topic of the 5th of May 2000, namely Freedom of Expression and Dialogue, has deeper implications than at first thought.

Hatto Fischer

Athens 30.11.2013


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