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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' (CCS).
  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 'empowering the cultural and creative sectors in data-driven audience development'. Several member states have already taken initiatives regarding digital data collection and communication on cultural offerings. However, there is a need for a shared framework for pooling efforts and strengthening collaboration on a larger scale. 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 Development – February 8 to 9, 2024 

The Belgian presidency is putting the digital transformation of the cultural sector onto the European agenda by organising the ‘Empowering the Cultural and Creative Sectors in Data-Driven Audience Development’ conference. The conference, which takes place from February 8 until February 9 in Ghent, will support work in the Culture Council, where Belgium, as the chair, will propose the council conclusions with regard to the matter.

For two days, we will delve into the digital transformation of the cultural and creative sectors (CCS), focusing upon data usage and digital opportunities. Data-driven work can strengthen the public engagement in cultural organisations and help them appeal to new target audiences. The programme includes policy proposals for promoting data-driven practices, ethical considerations in the use of (public) data, opportunities for developing digital and collective data processing infrastructure, promoting international cooperation, strengthening digital skills and encouraging international knowledge sharing with regard to the use of data in the CCS.  

The conference provides a platform where policymakers from the European Union and member states, commissioners and committee members, experts from EU institutions, academics, European actors of the cultural sector and experts can meet. By providing space for exciting speakers and inspiring examples, the Belgian presidency aims to give impetus to more international cooperation with regard to data-driven work within the CCS.

Most of the keynotes and panels were livestreamed on the event platform. Visit the platform to review the online sessions..


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

On 15 and 16 April, 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. After the conference, the meeting of the EU and Cultural Heritage Reflection Group takes place on April 17th.

The objective of the conference will be to explore together in greater depth the complex relationship between the concepts of culture, heritage and European identity. By fostering an open and stimulating debate, the Belgian Presidency is aiming to discuss the diversity of these concepts and explore the interconnections between them. Central to these discussions will be the question of the role of culture and heritage in the formation and expression of European identity, and which challenges and opportunities are associated with it.


Informal Working Dinner of EU Culture Ministers on Culture and Identity in Europe – May 13, 2024

On the eve of the Culture Council, the Flemish Minister for Culture is inviting European Ministers for Culture to an informal working dinner on 13 May 2024 in Antwerp.

At this meeting, they will build on the conversations that emerged from the conference 'Unity in Diversity? Culture, Heritage and Identity in Europe' on 15 and 16 April. The main objective of this dinner is to have an open debate on the role and contribution of culture and heritage in the European identity discourse.


On February 8th, the Belgian presidency, with the support of the Belgian Culture Ministers of the Flemish, French and German-speaking Communities, launched the call to sign the Ghent Manifesto.

Governments and organisations from the cultural and creative sectors were invited to affirm their support for the digital transformation of these sectors and for strengthening audience development through digital means. The letter of intent was introduced at the conference 'Empowering the Cultural and Creative Sectors in Data-Driven Audience Development'.

Read the Ghent Manifesto here.