The European territorial authorities situated in border areas (cities, regions, provinces, intercommunalities, urban areas and conurbations, etc.) developed numerous networks and cooperative projects with their counterpart authorities located on the other side of the border, which led to the formation of groupings and organisations commonly named “euroregions”. These dynamics were, on the one hand, encouraged by the policies of the Council of Europe in favour of cross-border cooperation (in particular the Madrid Convention in 1981 and its additional protocols) and, on the other hand, they were supported by the financing of the regional policy of the European Union (INTERREG programmes in particular).
In France, eleven regions, out of the twenty two mainland regions, share a border with a foreign country: Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Andorra and Monaco. The cross-border relations are thus numerous and are often linked to cultural, historic and linguistic reasons that illustrate the evolution of the frontiers between European States through history (Flanders, Alsace-Lorraine, Bavaria, Swiss and Italian Alps, Catalonia, Pyrenees…).
French overseas regions and départments are also involved in cross-border areas, as for example in the transnational programmes of the European Union for the Caribbean Area (French West Indies and Guiana) or for the Indian Ocean Area (Réunion and Mayotte). In 2011, an Inter-Guiana Cultural Festival was jointly organised by French Guiana, Suriname and Guyana, to celebrate the Inter-American year of Culture in Suriname (within the framework of the Organisation of American States).
According to a study on cross-border cultural cooperation (La coopération culturelle transfrontalière. Une étude sur les projets culturels transfrontaliers dans le programme Interreg III A, by Michael Stange, Relais Culture Europe and Mission Opérationnelle Transfrontalière: http://www.espaces-transfrontaliers.org/fileadmin/user_upload/documents/Documents_MOT/Etudes_Publications_MOT/100.etu.coo.mot.etude_cooperation_culture.2005.pdf), in France cultural projects represented 17% of the budget and 15% of the projects within the cross-border programmes INTERREG for 2000-2006. More widely, one study commissioned by the European Commission (Study on the contribution of culture to local and regional development – Evidence from the Structural Funds: http://ec.europa.eu/culture/key-documents/contribution-of-culture-to-local-and-regional-development_en.htm) estimated that the cultural projects represent 6 billion EUR within the whole EU regional policy for 2007-2013, that is 1.7% of the funds allocated to this policy.
We can distinguish three main dimensions in the mobilisation of arts and culture euroregional organisations:
- Historic-heritage-dimension, which refers to common historical and heritage cultural features that can be different from the “national” ones of the State (for instance in the Basque Country, Catalonia, Savoy, Alsace and Lorraine, the Flemish North, County of Nice, etc): touring exhibitions and projects on the common heritage and history, promotion of regional languages and cultures that are shared on both sides of the border.
- Event-dimension, in the perspective of territorial marketing. The cross-border events can be diverse, with in particular festivals: literary festival along the Jura mountains border, festival of the Romantic routes and cross-border Paminale Festival in the Upper Rhine, dance festival in the Basque Eurocity Bayonne-San Sebastian, festival Transphotographiques on the French-Belgian border, and collaboration between festivals in Girona and Perpignan on the French-Spanish border. Other types of events are literary or artistic prizes, or occasional events: concerts, exhibitions, and all sorts of cultural operations that allow for the communication and promotion of the euroregional partnership.
- Networking-dimension, which refers both to the constitution of professional and sectorial networks strictly speaking and, more generally, to the networking between authorities, institutions and audiences: official cultural declaration and conferences in the euroregion of the Upper Rhine; artistic residences and tours; structures and places such as the cross-border park Pamina-Rhine, the cross-border École du spectateur between France and Belgium, the cross-border dance studio of Biarritz, the Orchestra of Grande Région, Youth Orchestra of the Catalan countries, and, also, cross-border cultural routes. Networking tools exist like cross-border passes for museums or libraries (Upper-Rhine museum pass for example), digital platforms and web sites (site LEAD-Linked Euroregion Arts Development between Kent, Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Belgian regions), and common cultural guides. There are also cross-border television programmes, such as those that were developed by France 3 since the 1980s in the regions Alsace and Lorraine, Aquitaine and Poitou-Charentes, Brittany and Pays de Loire, Nord-Pas-de-Calais.
For the period 2007-2013, territorial cooperation became a mainstream objective of EU regional policy and benefited from an increased budget. A legal status was created in 2006 in EU law to allow a better structuring of partnerships in a common and single entity, and a stabilisation of the cooperation: the status of European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC). The Council of Europe launched a similar instrument in 2009 in the third additional protocol of the Madrid Convention: the Euroregional Cooperation Grouping (ECG).
Several euroregions illustrate a certain impact of these evolutions on cross-border cultural cooperation. Since its creation in 2004, the euroregion Pyrenées-Méditerranée on the French-Spanish eastern border placed cultural and artistic initiatives in its main lines of action: launching of specific calls for projects, creation of an internet cultural portal, support to cultural networks and routes, adoption of the status of EGCT, which allowed for mutualisation of the budget of the cross-border cultural projects. The Grande Région (Greater Region), that comprises the great-duchy of Luxembourg, the French region Lorraine, the German Länder of Rhineland-Palatinate and Saar, and the Belgian federal entities of Wallonia, was fully associated with the city of Luxembourg as European Capital of Culture in 2007. It became the first cross-border European cultural capital and in 2008, the members of the euroregion decided to create a specific and permanent body dedicated to cultural cooperation: the Espace culturel Grande Région. The emerging euroregions Alpes-Méditerranée (French-Italian border) and Aquitaine-Euskadi (Western French-Spanish borders), emphasise cultural policy in their projects of cooperation.
In the framework of the forthcoming EU programmes for 2014-2020, new initiatives are surely going to further advance the cultural and territorial construction of Europe.
Intercultural dialogue: actors, strategies, programmes
The recognition of cultural identities and intercultural dialogue are major challenges for France and Europe.
While France was, since the middle of the XIXth century, one of the main immigration countries in Europe, it took time to include this fact in the national collective narrative. The mainly social approach to immigration identified it with the problems of the cities’ disadvantaged districts and outskirts. However, identity thematics, based on ethnic or religious features, emerged and developed. Yet the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue is not relevant for French public authorities: since the separation of Church and State in France in 1905, the principle of secularism strictly conditions public action, and the religious affairs are limited to the private sphere. Following a series of attacks in France from 2015, which are claimed by the terrorist organisation ISIS, the State launched a training programme for the operators of urban, youth and sport policies on the theme “Republic Values and Secularism”.
Moreover, the specific regime of the concordat of 1801 between the State and the Roman Catholic Church, is always effective in the eastern départements of Haut-Rhin and Bas-Rhin. The State has some obligations in these territories concerning the recognition and organisation of the Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed and Jewish religions, the religious education at primary and middle school, the State remuneration of the clergy, the appointment of bishops, etc. Furthermore, Islam is today the second religion of the country, and the Conseil français du culte musulman (French Council of the Muslim Religion) was created in 2003, with the support of the government. This association represents the interests of the Muslims in France, in particular in their relations with public authorities. A specific foundation, the Fondation des œuvres de l’islam en France, was also created in 2005 to finance the CFCM. In 2016, to improve and organise with better transparency the financing of muslim cult in France, the State announced the relaunching of this Foundation after many years of inactivity. According to the new scheme, and as the law forbids any State funding for cult activities, the Foundation will focus on the dissemination of islam culture and literature (conferences, events, researches) and an independent and non public-funded association will finance cult related projects: building operations, religious training programmes, etc.
From the 1990s the interministerial programme “Cultures, villes et dynamiques sociales” (Cultures, cities and social dynamics) was implemented. It is summarised in two issues of the journal Culture et Recherche of the Ministry of Culture:
- “Démocratisation culturelle, diversité culturelle, cohésion sociale” (Cultural democratisation, cultural diversity, social cohesion”), n°106-107, December, 2005; and
- “De la diversité culturelle au dialogue interculturel” (From cultural diversity to intercultural dialogue), n°114-115, winter 2007-2008
The opening of the Cité nationale de l’histoire de l’immigration (National Centre of the History of Immigration) in 2007 aims at a better knowledge of the contributions of immigration to national culture, and at a wider access of the French population to this richness.
One of the challenges of intercultural dialogue is also, in the context of European construction, to strengthen a feeling of common European identity among the citizens, on the basis of shared values. The action of the European organisations contributed to enhance the issues of intercultural dialogue within French society: the European year of intercultural dialogue of the European Union in 2008, intercultural Dialogue programme of the Council of Europe, the White paper on intercultural dialogue “Live together as equals in dignity”, produced in 2008, and the joint action of the Council of Europe and European Union for 2008-2013 “Intercultural cities: governance and policies for diverse communities”.
During the year 2008 many events were organised in France, which involved many ministries, territorial authorities and non-governmental organisations:
- cultural and artistic events;
- colloquiums and conferences;
- research groups on intercultural practices; and
- a publication scheme (paper and online).
The launching conference was organised in March, 2008 in UNESCO in Paris by the Cité nationale de l’histoire de l’immigration, in partnership with the Ministry of Culture and Communication. The final conference took place in November, 2008 in the Centre Pompidou. From 1 July 2008, the European year of intercultural dialogue took place within the framework of the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union. A new cultural initiative was launched: the “European Cultural Season”. France invited its partners in the European Union to present the best of their heritage and their creation, and to highlight the creative vitality of European cultures, as well as the identity strength of a largely common heritage. Hundreds of events and performances occurred everywhere in France.
In 2011, following the work of 2008, the research group “Institutions patrimoniales et pratiques interculturelles” (patrimonial institutions and intercultural practices and participation, IPAPIC http://www.ipapic.eu ) was set up under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture. This body works around two axes:
- recognition of the diversity of cultural forms of expression, the multiplication and diversification of exchanges in the contemporary world, the complexity of societies and the changes in cultural participation;
- the challenge of heritage and of the processes of “patrimonialisation” due to the extension of the notion of heritage, and to the demands of social and political recognition that it conveys; and
Calls for research projects were launched on these thematics in 2013 and 2014.
At the end of 2015 a State Senior Official for diversity is appointed to the Misnitry of Culture. She works for cultural diversity and against discrimination, regarding access to cultural practices, works and occupations. She manages a specific board “Collège de la diversité”, composed of administrative and professional cultural representatives and socio-economic stakeholders.
Government’s overall approach to intercultural dialogue