Intercultural Communication is important to Europeans

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Today, the European Commission is publishing the results of its new Eurobarometer survey of people’s attitudes to ‘culture’. The survey covered 26 000 citizens in the 27 Member States and took place in February and March. These findings were presented at the first European Culture Forum in Lisbon on 26 – 28 September 2007, which brought business, cultural operators and policy makers together to explore the importance of culture.

Ján Figel’, European Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth, stressed the significance of these results: “Our continent is blessed with extraordinary cultural wealth, and this survey clearly shows that Europeans feel deeply about their culture and cultures. For me, this passion for our culture and cultures confirms the central place that ‘culture’ has in the European project. For policy makers in the Member States, the message is also clear: more means should be made available to facilitate cultural exchanges on our continent, to promote mutual understanding, tolerance and respect among our peoples. This is all the more important as we approach 2008, the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue.”

The main findings of the survey include:

• A very large proportion of Europeans (89%) perceive a greater need for ‘culture’ to be promoted at EU-level;

• Similarly, 88% feel that cultural exchanges are important, and they call on the European Union to facilitate cultural exchanges for Europeans, and so promote intercultural dialogue;

• 77% of Europeans feel that culture is important in their lives;

• 76% of the respondents consider that Europe’s cultural diversity is the defining characteristic of Europe, and that this diversity actually helps to increase the impact of European culture;

• 67% of Europeans consider that when compared with other continents, the European countries have a lot of cultural aspects in common;

• 58% of respondents were positive about the effects of globalisation on European culture, saying that it will give new dynamism to European culture, thereby extending the influence of Europe in the world;

• Education and culture is considered important in promoting understanding among Europeans: 56% of the respondents state that foreign language teaching in schools would help the Europeans know each other better, and 41% consider that the intensification of the exchange programmes for the students and professors would have the same effect.

For the European Commission, these survey results give clear support for its recent policy statement, in the form of the Communication on a European agenda for the culture[1], in which Member States were encouraged to recognise the importance of culture for:

1. strengthening of intercultural dialogue;
2. driving creativity and innovation in European enterprises, and
3. the relations of the EU with the rest of the world.

The survey covered a number of questions, including: Does culture play an important role in your life? According to you, is there such a thing as a ‘European culture’? How many books do you read per year? What do you expect from the European institutions in the cultural field?

The survey was carried out by TNS Opinion & Social, interviewing 26,755 citizens in the 27 Member States between 14 February and 18 March 2007. The methodology used is that of Eurobarometer surveys as carried out by the Directorate General for Communication. A technical note on the manner in which interviews were conducted by the Institutes within the TNS Opinion & Social network is appended as an annex to the full report.

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