EU’s Jean-Claude Juncker urged to rethink over culture capital ban
MPs representing the five areas which have submitted bids for culture capital have written to the European Commission president.
Jean-Claude Juncker has been urged to intervene to allow a British city to be named the European Capital of Culture despite Brexit.
British entrants for the 2023 honour have been deemed ineligible because the UK will not be part of the European Union or European Economic Area by then.
But in a letter to European Commission president Mr Juncker, MPs representing the five areas which have submitted bids for culture capital status urged him to allow the process to continue.
I've heard the EU will no longer be accepting UK cities for the Capital of Culture. Seems a very bitter decision, we are not turning our backs on Europe yet this is looks like they are turning their backs on us. I will be seeking urgent clarification from DCLG.— Iain Stewart MP (@iainastewart) November 23, 2017
UK cities being disqualified from the European Capital of Culture is NOT the EU being “vindictive”; it’s just one more example of something the Brexiters HADN’T THOUGHT OF.— Mitch Benn (@MitchBenn) November 23, 2017
They told him: “We find it inexplicable that the European Union waited until after the bids from the United Kingdom had been submitted before ruling them all ineligible, when it has been aware of the United Kingdom’s decision since June 2016.
“Politics should not interfere with what is in many ways an event intended to bridge cultural and political divides.”
Five different UK bids were competing to host the 2023 European Capital of Culture, spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on their entries.
Nottingham, Leeds, Milton Keynes, Dundee and a joint Belfast-Londonderry-Strabane bid were all in the running for the accolade, which has the potential to provide a significant economic boost.
Official statement following the European Commission letter to DCMS: https://t.co/1Z0o7bte4j— Leeds 2023 (@leeds_2023) November 23, 2017
In the letter organised by Leeds West Labour MP Rachel Reeves, representatives from all five areas told Mr Juncker: “Parliament has always been clear that it wishes to remain close to the European Union and the exclusion of the United Kingdom from the bidding process is saddening.
“Having a capital of culture would be an excellent way of fostering this relationship and continuing cooperation after Brexit.”
The MPs pointed out that cities in Norway, Iceland, Turkey and Serbia have held or will hold capital of culture status, although they acknowledged that all were either within the European Economic Area or candidate countries to join the EU, the grounds for eligibility set for the competition.
“We politely remind you that the United Kingdom is still a member of the European Union and that no decision has yet been made as to what a future relationship will look like,” the MPs told Mr Juncker.
“The #Dundee2023 team are urgently seeking clarification on what this statement will mean for the Dundee bid and we will be speaking to the DCMS as soon as possible.”— Dundee2023 (@dundee2023) November 23, 2017
Have you seen the news about the European Capital of Culture bid? We’re disappointed, but nothing will reduce our ambition to continue to grow our arts, heritage and cultural sectors in MK. Keep watching this space!— CultureMK (@CultureMK) November 24, 2017
Reaction to today's news: Our bid has brought Nottingham together & regardless of any outcomes we will work to implement many of the positive actions through the Strategic Cultural Framework. We are liaising with DCMS & hope this can be resolved positively for UK bidding cities.— Nottingham 2023 (@Nottingham2023) November 23, 2017
Statement Re: European Capital of Culture pic.twitter.com/rXrWmo8lmW— WeAre2023 (@WeAre2023) November 23, 2017
The group have also written to Culture Secretary Karen Bradley to ask what can be done to resolve the situation.
The European Commission said the position was “one of the many concrete consequences” of Brexit and the result of the approach to Brexit set out by Theresa May which would see the UK leave the single market.
The commission said that EU law decided in 2014 by all member states, including the UK, ruled you have to be in the EU, the EEA or a candidate to join in order to take part in the competition.
“The UK’s letter declaring Article 50 in turn makes clear that UK will be a member of neither the EU nor the EEA from March 30 2019,” the commission said.
“This leads to the inescapable conclusion that the UK cannot host a Capital of Culture in 2023.”