Placing Culture at the Heart of the European Project
French Culture Minister Françoise Nyssen calls for a re-foundation of Europe through cultureNovember 01st, 2017
France was the guest of honor at the 69th Frankfurt Book Fair from 11 to 15 October 2017. On this occasion, the French and German Culture Ministers gathered their European counterparts for an informal meeting on the development of common cultural initiatives.
French Culture Minister Françoise Nyssen delivered a speech about the importance of culture for Europe during the opening of the Frankfurt Book Fair on 11th October 2017.
She mentioned the need to promote the diverse identities of the French language through the “francophonie” as a rich linguistic variety and for the French-speaking cultural actors to stand together as ambassadors of a common language. Linking this to the international policies of France, she also explained the importance of preserving a European cultural model.
She underlined that European countries need to team up in order to promote cultural initiatives, as they are facing big digital companies. A collaborative effort would be needed in order to address the main current issues in the cultural field: copyright questions, repartition of value or pirating.
From her point of view, in line with the pro-European orientation of President Macron’s government, Europe should be redefined around culture. She cited Fernand Braudel’s idea of European culture: “the shining unities giving the European civilization [ ] a brotherly, almost uniform, look, as if it was invaded by one same light.”
By fostering culture in Europe and supporting creative industries together, institutions would be able to create bridges and build trust between the different publics. Addressing the audience of writers, she explained: “You are able to arouse the European idea in the mind of the woman who will read you in an Italian village, the man who will read you in the Romanian countryside, or in a Polish café.”
To her, literature, and more generally, the arts and culture are real means to reinforce trust and peace amongst Europeans and therefore should be at the heart of European integration. Cultural diplomacy, in this sense, would be a way out of the current Eurosceptic crisis and should be used as a priority by the European Union.
A first step in this direction has been achieved, as she and the German Culture Minister Monika Grütters invited their European counterparts for a meeting on the topic “Re-establishing Europe through culture”. The agenda of the meeting included discussions on the 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage, the idea of a “cultural Erasmus program” or the importance of culture in European politics.
France has had a long history in the field of cultural diplomacy. It seems that it will now be one of the important axes of future European policies initiated from its side.