|Author (Person)||Neligan, Myles|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.4, No.44, 3.12.98, p10|
|Content Type||Journal | Series | Blog|
THE European Parliament's bid for more say in annual negotiations over which city should become the culture capital of Europe has become bogged down in a bitter dispute between MEPs and governments.
If the Parliament does not reverse its decision to boycott the next stage of talks on a proposed new selection procedure by the end of the year, the current selection process - which does not give the Parliament any role at all - is likely to continue beyond the year 2000.
So far, MEPs have shown no sign of dropping their objections and entering into negotiations with national governments to find a compromise solution.
Under the European Commission's original proposal, responsibility for choosing the European culture capital would pass in the year 2000 from governments to an independent jury made up of national representatives, MEPs and EU officials.
But after three years of discussion, ministers voted in June to retain their exclusive right to decide, and amended the proposal to extend the current system of selecting the city of culture through inter-governmental talks until 2005.
From then on, the culture capital would simply be chosen by the government holding the rotating EU presidency, and the whole system would be reviewed once more in 2018.
EU culture ministers are unlikely to give much ground. "It took us three years to reach a agreement and I do not think any changes in the Council of Ministers' position are likely now," said one EU diplomat. "There was a strong feeling during the ministerial discussions that culture is an area where national competence should prevail."
But the mood amongst MEPs is far from conciliatory. "The national authorities voted to keep it all to themselves as usual," said British Green MEP Hugh Kerr, a member of the Parliament's culture committee. "There should of course be input from a wider cross-section of interests than culture ministers alone."
The Commission has the option of intervening to broker a deal between governments and MEPs. But although a compromise solution under which the Parliament would be entitled to give a non-binding opinion on governments' choice of culture capital was briefly considered, the institution has since decided not to get involved.
"The Council made its decision and we accepted it. Governments made it clear that they wish to carry on making the decisions," said one Commission official.
The only remaining option would be for the Commission to withdraw its proposal altogether, but it is unlikely to do so because this would anger national governments and would put all sides under pressure to agree rapidly on a fresh proposal. "This is not something worth going to war over," said the official.
Eurocities, the EU association of urban municipalities, says most city and town authorities in the Union support the stance taken by national governments.
|Subject Categories||Culture, Education and Research|