K. Papaioannou

University of Patras (GREECE)
The objective of this study is to highlight the upgraded role of culture in the policy of entities (states, unions of states, etc) participating in the modern international system. In particular, we focus on the case of the European Union (EU). EU started as an economic union of states (European Economic Community-EEC) but soon developed a political character, as well. However, the lack of “hard power” from a political point of view provided a strong incentive for the European Union to use “soft power” in a more systematic way. EU clearly recognized the significance of culture as a means of exercising “soft power”. Towards this direction, the European Union has developed and exploited culture-related programs and strategies in order to strengthen its position in the international arena. Starting from 1992 with the signing of the Maastricht Treaty, EU action in the field of culture began to acquire a legal basis. Since then, the European foreign policy has contributed to the spread of the European culture worldwide and it has helped to create a much more attractive Europe.

In the following, we present and analyze major aspects of the European cultural policy, the exercise of European cultural diplomacy and the institutionalization of culture as one of the pillars of foreign policy. In addition, we further elaborate on the two-way relationship between European foreign policy and European culture. We present and analyze organized initiatives on behalf of the European Union in order to strengthen its position in the international system and raise its soft power. Our analysis clearly suggests that the European Union can certainly exploit the sector of culture for developing and raising its “soft power” in order to improve EU international standing and global influence.