Against the backcloth of globalisation and fears about a clash of civilisations, the Culture Committee has welcomed the European Commission’s proposal that 2008 should be declared "European Year of Intercultural Dialogue". MEPs are pressing for dialogue between religions to be the main topic of the year’s events.
The Culture Committee’s call for dialogue between religions to be explicitly included in the broad aims of Intercultural Dialogue Year follows a proposal to this effect by rapporteur Erna Hennicot-Schoepges (EPP-ED, LU). MEPs are keen to bring intercultural dialogue into the mainstream of Community policies. They back the Commission’s idea of raising the profile of all EU measures related to intercultural dialogue and making them more consistent. They say the campaign should also highlight the contribution of different cultures to Europe’s heritage and lifestyles as well as helping promote intercultural dialogue in schools.
Intercultural dialogue already occupies an important place in many Community policies (e.g. education, youth, anti-racism, asylum policy) as well as in the EU’s external relations. Key aims are the promotion of cultural diversity and active citizenship. The Commission’s proposal for 2008 to be European Year of Intercultural Dialogue should be seen against this background.
Prize and intercultural forum
Another suggestion by MEPs is for a prize for intercultural dialogue to be awarded to a youth project carried out as part of Community programmes such as Socrates, Youth and Culture.
Lastly, the Culture Committee would like European Year of Intercultural Dialogue to conclude with an intercultural forum at the European Parliament bringing together representatives of civil society and the political and religious world.