The European Cultural Parliament was founded in the premises of the Council of Europe, Strasbourg, in 2001, upon the initiative of the Swedish Ambassdor Karl-Erik Norrman. The objective was – and is – to strengthen the role of cultural and artistic ideas and initiatives in Europe. In addition, the founders of the ECP wished to strengthen the dialogue between citizens in Eastern and Western Europe and between the various arts sectors.
To this end, outstanding artists and other cultural personalities from all parts of the continent were nominated Members of the ECP in 2002. At the beginning of 2012 the ECP has 165 Members from 43 European countries.
The first session of the ECP was held in Bruges, Collège d´Europe, in November 2002. Some 40 cultural personalities from 25 European countries participated.
Europe needs a soul
The theme was “How can European artists and other cultural personalities contribute to better understanding between cultures, religions and regions?”. The members agreed i.a. upon a Mission Statement to the effect that “Ethical and aesthetic values must be the essence of a new European Society”. It was also decided that the membership of ECP should continue to grow, mainly through an “organic process”, whereby ECP-Members may nominate artists/colleagues from other countries than their own. In addition, and from the third session on, a Nomination Committee has been advising the Senate in matters regarding new members.
The second session was held in Graz, in November 2003. Themes were “Culture as an Instrument for Conflict Prevention” and “Creativity, Creative Milieus and Civic Transformation in Europe”.
The third session was organised in Genoa, in Palazzo Ducale, in December 2004. The theme was “Culture beyond Entertainment”.
The fourth session took place in Lisbon, at the Gulbenkian Foundation in December 2005. More than 80 cultural personalities from 38 countries met to discuss the theme “How can European Culture promote European Cohesion?”.
The 5th ECP session was organised in Turku, Finland, September 15-17 2006. Again, more than 80 cultural personalities from 38 countries participated and discussed various aspects of the theme “Can Culture Help Dissolve the European Stalemate?” At this session the important ECP report “Culture – the Heart of a Knowledge-based Economy” was adopted and then presented to the EU Commission president Barroso.
The 6th session was held in Sibiu, Romania, 5-7 October 2007. Two themes were discussed; “Intercultural Dialogue” (as an imput to the European year of intercultural dialogue, which was celebrated the year after) and “Communicating the European idea to citizens”.
The 7th session was held in Liverpool, UK, October 24-26 2008. The theme, prepared by a workshop in Brussels, was “Democracy in Europe – a Strategic Challenge for Culture and the Media”. Concern was expressed, i.a. over the risk for trivialized and rapidly fragmented media in the quickly developing globalized world.
The 8th session in Gothenburg, Sweden, December 11-13 2009, was very much a continuation of the Liverpool discussion. The theme was “Quality and Reflection in Culture and Media – Prerequisites for European Democracy”. ECP members confirmed their commitment to Quality in the Arts and to quality journalism.
The 9th session took place in Athens, Greece, September 16-19 2010. The theme was “Europe and its Greek Legacy” which inspired to a discussion on the future of Europe in a philosophical, historic, democratic and artistic perspective. The session also involved an exhibition and a workshop on “25 Years of European Capital of Culture”.
The 10th Session, like many of the previous sessions, was a cooperation with a European Capital of Culture – Pécs, Hungary – and was held October14-16 2011. The theme was “The Relevance of Europe – Culture, Politics and Economy in the Era of Global Competition”. In connection with this session the new ECP Youth Network held its first session.
The ECP will continue to meet in coming years in culturally important cities in various parts of Europe. Several members are engaged, also between sessions, in carrying out various projects initiated by the ECP, notably NUROPE, the “Nomadic University for Arts, Philosophy and Enterprise in Europe”, which had its first “oasis” in Turku in 2006 and continued in a dozen other European cities in following years. The ECP Lisbon Agenda Research Group is continuing its work on the strategic role of culture in a knowledge-based economy.
The Senate consists of the founding fathers and mothers of the ECP and some other Senior Europeans with a cultural orientation. It functions as a standing committee for strategic issues, including financing of the ECP, choice of new host cities and considerations of new ECP members. Minister Pär Stenbäck, Helsinki Finland, is the Chairman of the Senate.
The legal and administrative centre of the ECP is the German NGO “Verein für ein Europäisches Kulturparlament”, Klett-Haus, Stuttgart.
The office of the Secretary General of the ECP, Karl-Erik Norrman, is in Berlin, Germany.