The European Commission has announced that Britain will not be allowed to host the European Capital of Culture in 2023 as previously planned. The Commission has written to the British government advising that the UK access to the scheme would be “discontinued post Brexit, despite it being open to countries who aren’t EU members.
The Commission claims that Theresa May’s decision to leave the EU, EEA and single market is the reason for the cancellation of the hosting. Although non EU members Norway and Iceland have hosted the Capital of Culture before, these countries were members of the EEA.
The Commission has quoted the EU regulation 445/2014/EU which states that only EEA countries or EU candidate countries can take participate in the scheme. The letter from EU director-general for Education and Culture, Martine Reicherts, said that:
“After consulting relevant services of the Commission, I would like to inform you that following its withdrawal from the European Union, the participation of the United Kingdom in the European Capital of Culture Union action will not be possible,”
The UK had been scheduled be the host in 2023, with several cities including Leeds, Dundee and Belfast already preparing bids. Representatives from Dundee and Leeds are both waiting for “urgent clarification” from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) over their bids.
A spokesperson from DCMS said that the government is in urgent talks with the commission regarding the issue. Paul Russ, chair of the Nottingham 2023 bid, said that “regardless of any outcomes we will work to implement as many of the positive actions” that were planned to take place. The websites for the bid cities are still live, although the DCMS has advised that they are “subject to the outcome of exit negotiations which have a bearing on the UK’s participation”.
A spokesperson for the DCMS said in a statement that “We disagree with the European Commission’s stance and are deeply disappointed that it has waited until after UK cities have submitted their final bids before communicating this new position to us.The Prime Minister has been clear that while we are leaving the EU, we are not leaving Europe and this has been welcomed by EU leaders.”
“We want to continue working with our friends in Europe to promote the long-term economic development of our continent, which may include participating in cultural programmes. We remain committed to working with the five UK cities that have submitted bids to help them realise their cultural ambitions and we are in urgent discussions with the Commission on the matter.”
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