Started in 1985, European Capitals of Culture have developed into one of the most ambitious cultural projects in Europe and one of the EU's most appreciated activities.
The goal of the scheme is more relevant than ever: it is to provide Europeans with opportunities to learn more about each other's cultures, to enjoy their shared history and values and to experience the feeling of belonging to the same community.
Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner responsible for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, said:
"In 2024, we will once again have a European Capital of Culture beyond the European Union. After Novi Sad (Serbia) in 2021, it will be the turn of Bodø to be under the spotlight for a year. I am convinced that the city and its region will use this opportunity to reinforce their cultural and other connections with the European Union. I hope that this title will also boost the city’s cultural vibrancy and ambitions, bring culture and cultural heritage right to the heart of its various communities and promote intercultural dialogue in the region. Visitors from all over Europe and beyond will have the possibility to discover the city and its cultural assets, but also to appreciate the diversity of cultures on our continent. I am confident that Bodø will reap the long-term cultural, economic and social benefits that the European Capital of Culture title can bring."
In accordance with the Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council which governs the European Capitals of Culture Union action, there will be three European Capitals of Culture in 2024: one in Estonia, one in Austria and one in an EFTA/EEA country, candidate country or potential candidate to EU membership participating in the current .
According to the current scheme for designating the European Capitals of Culture, the selection has two rounds: a pre-selection round (following which a shortlist of candidate cities is drawn up) and a final selection round approximately nine months later (one city is recommended for the title). The selected cities are then officially designated by the Member State concerned (or by the Commission for cities in non EU Member States).
The selection criteria state that cities should prepare a cultural programme with a strong European dimension, which fosters the participation of the city's stakeholders as well as its various neighbourhoods and attracts visitors from the whole country and Europe. The programme must have a lasting impact and contribute to the long-term development of the city. The cities must also show that they have the support from the relevant public local authorities and the capacity to deliver the project.
Regarding the competition between cities in EFTA/EEA countries, candidate countries and potential candidates, the Commission invited applications from cities in September 2017. The call was open to cities in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Norway. Cities in Serbia were not eligible as Novi Sad in Serbia will host the event in 2021. Five cities applied for the first round: Banja Luka, Bodø, Mostar, Srebrenica and Tirana. The pre-selection meeting took place in Brussels on 21-22 November 2018 and three cities (Banja Luka, Bodø and Mostar) were short-listed. They were given until 23 August 2019 to complete their applications and then invited to a final selection meeting in Brussels on 24 September.
The applications were examined by a panel composed of 10 independent experts appointed by EU institutions and bodies (European Parliament, Council, Commission and Committee of the Regions).
The final selection meeting for the competition in Estonia took place in Tallinn on 28 August (with Tartu being recommended for the title) while the final selection meeting for the competition in Austria will take place in Vienna on 10-12 November 2019.
Following Matera (Italy) and Plovdiv (Bulgaria) this year, Rijeka (Croatia) and Galway (Ireland) will be European Capitals of Culture in 2020, Elefsina (Greece), Timisoara (Romania) and Novi Sad (Serbia, candidate country to EU membership) in 2021, Kaunas (Lithuania) and Esch-sur-Alzette (Luxembourg) in 2022 and Veszprém (Hungary) in 2023.
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