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The Belgian EU presidency for Culture programme

Artiest op het podium die naar zijn publiek kijkt

From January 1 to June 30, 2024, Belgium is, more than ever, the beating heart of the EU. This generates a lot of additional international attention and is an excellent opportunity to showcase the Belgian expertise. As presidency, we are not only responsible for maintaining the continuity of the EU agenda and ensuring good cooperation between the member states, but also have the chance to emphasize our own priorities.

The cultural priorities during the Belgian presidency are:

  1. Supporting and stimulating the digital transformation of the 'cultural and creative sectors and industries' (CCSI).
  2. Keeping Flemish and European cultural heritage on the EU Culture agenda.
  3. Making the Flemish cultural identity visible and promoting a collectively shared European identity.

What is Flanders’ role in the Belgian EU presidency Culture programme? Read all about it.

The Culture Council

The EU ministers responsible for culture convene during the Culture Council. In addition to continuing the ongoing European cultural agendas, Belgium takes the initiative to draft council conclusions regarding the digital transformation of the cultural and creative sectors. Unlike legislation, council conclusions are not legally binding; but instead represent the member states' position on specific themes. Therefore, following debates among the member states, the Council takes a political stance on a subject or issue.

These council conclusions focus on the theme of 'strengthening the Cultural and Creative Sectors and Industries through data-driven approach for audience participation and development'. While some member states have already taken initiatives regarding digital data collection and communication on cultural offerings, there is a lack of overarching coordination and knowledge sharing among countries. European collaboration could offer numerous benefits, such as the ability to centrally exchange data from member states and cultural organisations, fostering shared insights. The European Union already possesses the necessary tools to facilitate coordination and data exchange between countries.

Within Belgium, significant projects on this theme are currently underway. Belgium, alongside other countries pioneering in (digital) data on cultural participation, can take a leading role in designing guidelines and quality standards at the European level.


Empowering the Cultural and Creative Sectors in Data-Driven Audience Engagement – February 8 to 9, 2024 

To support the work in the Culture Council and on the council conclusions, the Belgian presidency will organise a conference on the digital transformation of the cultural and creative sectors (CCS) which will take place from February 8 to 9 in Ghent. Over two days, we will delve deeper into broadening and deepening cultural participation by data-driven audience development. The program will explore existing and potential future policies to foster cultural participation, ethical considerations regarding the use of (audience) data, digital and collective data processing infrastructure, promotion of international cooperation, strengthening of digital skills and leadership, and encouraging knowledge sharing regarding data usage in the CCS. 

The conference will provide a platform for knowledge sharing and collaboration by bringing together EU and member state policymakers, committee members and commissioners, experts from EU institutions and member states, academics, cultural superstructures in Europe, as well as advocates and tech experts. With this event, the Belgian presidency aims to provide a space for engaging speakers and inspiring examples, and to initiate more international collaboration in the field of data-driven work within the CCS.


Unity in Diversity? Culture, Heritage and Identity in Europe April 15 to 17, 2024

From April 15 to 17, a meeting of high-ranking professionals from renowned European cultural and heritage institutions, policymakers from the EU member states and EU institutions, and the European cultural sector will take place in Antwerp.

The aim of the conference is to delve deeper into the complex connections between the concepts of culture, heritage, and identity within Europe. By fostering an open and stimulating debate, together with the Flanders Heritage Agency, we aim to discuss the versatility of these concepts and map out the connections between them. Central to these discussions is the question of how culture and heritage contribute to the formation and expression of identity, and which challenges and opportunities this poses. 


Informal Ministerial Working Dinner on European Culture and Identity – May 13, 2024

The evening before the Culture Council, Flemish Minister for Culture Jan Jambon will welcome the European culture ministers for an informal working dinner on May 13 in Antwerp for informal discussions on the topic of culture and identity in Europe.

These discussions will build on the conversations and outcomes of the conference ‘Unity in Diversity? Culture, Heritage and Identity in Europe’. The purpose of this meeting is to engage in an open debate about the role and contribution of culture and heritage in the discourse of identity on a ministerial level. 

Sophie De Paepe
Kennis en Beleid