EUROPEAN YEAR OF INTERCULTURAL DIALOGUE
2008 (13094/05, 8596/06)
Letter from David Lammy MP, Minister for
Culture, Department for Culture, Media and Sport to the Chairman
Thank you for your letter of 22 November 2005
in response to my Explanatory Memorandum dated 25 October. Following
further discussions at working group level 1 now have additional
information with which to address your questions.
The main objectives of the Year are: to help
all those living in an expanded European Union to adapt to a more
open, multicultural environment, and to raise the awareness of
all those living in the European Union of the importance of engaging
in dialogue with people from other ethnic and faith groups and
from other countries in the EU. I fully support these objectives.
The Year has a modest budget and the Commission's
intention is that the Year should complement, draw attention to
and add value to Intercultural Dialogue activities within other
programmes rather than focussing on projects. This will ensure
that it does not duplicate the actions which other Programmes
could fund. The Culture programme (formerly known as Culture 2007)
and Citizens for Europe are two examples of programmes which should
be strengthened by the related activities under the proposed Year
of Intercultural Dialogue.
The budget proposed for the Year is 10
million (£6,820,000), but the final budget is still to be
agreed as part of the Inter-institutional agreement with the European
Parliament. This will fund an awareness-raising campaign and a
limited number of emblematic actions on a European scale aimed
at raising awareness, particularly among young people, of the
objectives of the European Year. The Commission also proposes
co-financing actions on a national scale with a strong European
dimension. This funding would be allocated to Member States on
the basis of their relative size, but the Advisory Committee would
also need to ensure that any application met the selection criteria.
It is envisaged that promotion of the proposed
Year of Intercultural Dialogue in the UK will be done through
the funded actions which take place here. While it is too early
to discuss specific examples of such activities, some possibilities
are already being considered: English Heritage are interested
in the potential links between involving citizens in the historic
environment and developing active European citizenship and celebrating
We in DCMS are eager to take advantage of the
fact that 2008 is both the Year of Intercultural Dialogue and
the year when Liverpool will be European Capital of Culture. Officials
will be having an initial meeting with the European Commission
and Liverpool to discuss the possibilities for an event in Liverpool
to bring together both Years.
19 February 2006
Letter from the Chairman to David Lammy
Thank you for your letter dated 19 February
which was considered by Sub-Committee G on 16 March.
In principle, we continue to support the general
objectives of the Year, as you do. They are potentially important
and topical. But they are vaguely-defined and will require sensitive
interpretation. We still find it hard to judge what effect these
proposals might have in practice and to be confident that they
will add worthwhile value to all the other Commission-funded cultural
programmes. With the modest budget proposed, it will be essential
to ensure that any projects funded from it are sound and likely
to make a significant impact.
Much will therefore depend, in our view, on
the integrity and effectiveness of the proposed Advisory Committee,
about which we can find no details in the documentation produced
so far. We would be grateful if you could explain how this Committee
will be chosen, what its terms of reference will be and what oversight
Member States will have of its activities.
We also want to be sure that the results of
the Year will be rigorously evaluated by the Commission and Member
States, as well as being submitted for Parliamentary scrutiny
in due course.
We will continue to retain the document under
scrutiny, pending your reply on these points. But we would also
be glad to be kept in touch with the Department's thinking, as
it develops, on how to make the best of this opportunity in the
Although we accept that it may be too soon to
say exactly what activities might be held here under the aegis
of the Year, we warmly welcome your efforts in trying to link
the Year with the designation of Liverpool as the European Capital
of Culture. At first sight, this strikes us as a potentially important
initiative to which priority should be given. We hope it will
be pursued with vigour and imagination in the Department's discussions
with the city authorities and the European Commission.
16 March 2006
Letter from Shaun Woodward MP, Minister
for Creative Industries and Tourism, Department for Culture, Media
and Sport to the Chairman
I am writing to ask you and your Committee to
consider the attached Supplementary Explanatory Memorandum on
the Proposal concerning the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue
The initial proposal for the Year was cleared
by the House of Commons European Committee in November last year,
but the House of Lords Committee placed a scrutiny reserve on
the proposal, which it maintains.
I believe that the concerns which your Committee
expressed in your letter of 16 March about the clarity of the
objectives, the Advisory Committee and the evaluation process
have been effectively answered in the revised text of the Proposal,
and I would be grateful if you could urgently consider this issue
before the Council meeting next week on 18 May.
12 May 2006
Letter from the Chairman to Shaun Woodward
Thank you for your letter and Supplementary
Explanatory Memorandum dated 12 May, the electronic version of
which only reached us shortly after 6 pm on Monday 15 May.
You asked for a decision to be taken on the
scrutiny reserve before Thursday 18 May when the Council was due
to decide on a General Approach. Members felt strongly that the
notice given was unreasonably short and that your letter had not
explained adequately why it could not have been submitted before.
Your officials were therefore told that your request could not
be considered until the weekly meeting of Sub-Committee G on the
morning of 18 May.
This is not the first request we have had recently
for urgent consideration of what appears to be a last-minute move
by the Austrian Presidency to bring outstanding items forward
for decision at Council. We suggest that the Presidency might
be reminded that Parliamentary scrutiny is taken very seriously
in this country and that the scrutiny committees cannot be expected
to short-circuit their normal procedures of methodical consideration
when there is no apparent good reason for doing so.
Following careful consideration by the meeting
of Sub-Committee G on 18 May, I confirm that we are prepared to
release this document from scrutiny, as requested, to enable you
to support the expected proposal for an agreed General Approach
at the Council meeting on 18 May. The Clerk passed a telephone
message to that effect to UKREP in time for the afternoon session
of the Council when we understand this was due to be discussed.
In reaching this decision, we still felt that
the overall objectives of the Proposal remained vague. We would
like to remind you of what I said in my letter dated 16 March
to David Lammy about the need for sensitive interpretation of
the objectives and to ensure that any projects funded from the
Year's budget are sound and likely to have a significant impact.
We are glad to see that the UK will be represented
on the Advisory Committee which will assist the Commission in
carrying out the programme and trust you will ensure that the
UK representative is fully aware of our views in this respect.
We also welcome the new arrangements for continuous, as well as
final, evaluation by the Commission which is a step in the direction
indicated in my letter dated 16 March.
Nevertheless, we are still not entirely clear
how the management arrangements will work in practice. Since the
General Approach is only a decision in principle in favour of
the Proposal, we assume that these details are still to be worked
out. We would be glad to know how the Government proposes to make
sure that the combination of the Advisory Committee and the continuous
evaluation will give Member States proper oversight of the way
that the Commission is running the programme and carrying out
its responsibilities for the overall coherence of the programme
and complementarity with other initiatives, as set out in Article
We also agree that the proposed reallocation
of the budget to give more scope for co-financing actions at both
Community and national level, and rather less for general information
and promotional activities, is potentially helpful. But we will
want that the distribution to be carefully monitored by Member
States to make sure that the balance is right.
We are particularly pleased that the Department
has made more progress in trying to capitalise on the designation
of Liverpool as the European Capital of Culture in the same year
as the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue, and that the Commission
also seem to be keen on this idea.
The notion of trying to link Liverpool with
other leading maritime cities "on the edge" of Europe
is interesting and we hope it will be pursued with vigour and
imagination. But we suggest that some less ambiguous term than
"on the edge" might be found which would make clear
that it is intended to mean the maritime geographical extremities
We look forward to your report on the outcome
of the Council meeting and your comments on the above. We would
also be grateful if you could keep us informed of further developments.
18 May 2006
Letter from David Lammy MP to the Chairman
Thank you for your letter of 18 May addressed
to Shaun Woodward in which you confirmed that the House of Lords
Select Committee had agreed to lift the scrutiny reserve on the
European Commission Proposal for a European Year of Intercultural
Dialogue 2008. I am sorry for the delay in replying.
I am sorry if the Committee felt that we were
trying to rush them into a decision. I would certainly not wish
your members to feel pressured in any way, and I known that my
officials were only concerned that the scrutiny reserve might
be lifted as soon as possible so that the UK could take a full
part in discussions in Council.
I am very glad that the Committee decided to
lift the reserve and very grateful for the speed of their decision.
This enabling the UK to support the proposal for an agreed General
Approach at the Council meeting on 18 May. I should also like
to thank your Clerk for taking the trouble to pass the news by
telephone to UKREP before the afternoon session of the Council
on 18 May.
I agree with your view that the objectives of
the Proposal will need careful handling and that projects should
be sound. With both these aims in view, I am very encouraged by
the potential of the Liverpool "Cities on the Edge"
programme (even if you do not care for the name).
I am not yet sure exactly how the Advisory Committee
will carry out its work and how the budget will be distributed.
I will of course keep you in touch with these details as they
become clearer, and continue to inform you of all important developments
in the programme.
18 July 2006
206 Correspondence with Ministers, 45th Report of
Session 2005-06, HL Paper 243, p 617. Back