Today, we celebrate cultural diversity across the European Union and beyond. Cultural diversity is vital for peace and prosperity. It helps us prevent intolerance, xenophobia and violent radicalisation, foster economic growth, strengthen diplomatic relations and mutual understanding.
Europe has always been a mosaic of cultures – our diversity marks our continent and is at the core of our European identity. When we founded our Union, we made the choice to embrace this diversity and launch a project of integration, openness and exchanges.
This is why we are promoting and supporting cultural diversity through policies and programmes, such as Creative Europe and Erasmus+, both inside and outside the Union's borders.
2018 is the European Year of Cultural Heritage. Our aim is to encourage everyone to discover and explore the richness and diversity of European cultural heritage as a pivotal component of our identities.
With our partners across the Union and around the world, we promote cultural relations and diversity by fostering social and economic developments, and peaceful inter-community relations.
Our cultural diplomacy is aimed at building up resilience, which is both in our partners' and our European interest. One of our key priorities to this end is the protection of cultural heritage and diversity, fighting illicit trade in cultural goods, and engaging in inter-cultural dialogue. The EU has already led initiatives to restore ancient manuscripts in Timbuktu, Mali, to lend support to Project Mosul in Iraq, and we have launched the initiative of the EU-Western Balkans Cultural Heritage Route. UNESCO is a key partner in this, in particular with the 2005 Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions to which the EU is a party.
Today, we reconfirm that the EU stays committed to protecting cultural diversity. This is key to help us build communities and a cohesive, resilient Europe for the future.