Greece in the “European Capital of Culture 2021” competition

Approximately 14 Greek cities are competing for the title of the “European Capital of Culture 2021”. The institution will be hosted by Greece and Romania, as the title will be given to a Greek and a Romanian city that will become the European Capital duet for the year.

The project was initiated in 1985 by then Greek Minister of Culture, Melina Mercouri. The aim is to place cities at the centre of cultural life across Europe, by giving them the opportunity to host major cultural events and other relevant projects. Local economies are expected to benefit from the increase of arrivals and expenditure, while the institution also contributes to their social and cultural development.

The Greek candidate cities are Corfu, Delphi, Eleusis, Ioannina, Kalamata, Larissa, Lesvos, Messolonghi, Piraeus, Rhodes, Salamina, Samos, Tripolis and Volos. All applications were submitted on November 30th, 2015 at the Directorate of International Relations and European Union of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports. The applications will be sent to the panel of experts and the European Commission and all cities will present their candidacies in a pre-selection meeting, due to take place in early 2016.

The Municipality of Samos recently held a press conference to announce its candidancy. The Mayor of Samos, Michalis Angelopoulos, spoke of the island’s 6.000 years of history, its culture and its achievements in maths, astronomy, architecture, technology, shipbuilding, sculpture and painting. Samos’ motto is inspired by the Pythagoras’ Theorem: People2 + Creativity2 = Culture2.

Romania is also participating in the competition for 2021. The pre-selection meeting for the Romanian competition took place on 7-10 December 2015, with four cities being recommended for the final round (Baia Mare, Bucharest, Cluj and Timisoara).

More than 50 European Capitals of Culture in 30 years

The initiative was developed in 1985 and has, to date, been awarded to more than 50 cities across the European Union. The 2015 European Capitals of Culture are  Mons  (Belgium) and Plzeň  (Czech Republic).

European Capitals of Culture have already been designated until 2019:

2016 – Donostia-San Sebastián (Spain) and Wrocław (Poland)

2017 – Aarhus (Denmark) and Paphos (Cyprus)

2018 – Leeuwarden (Netherlands) and Valetta (Malta)

2019 – Plovdiv (Bulgaria) and Matera (Italy)

A new framework for the initiative, post 2019, has been adopted by the European Parliament and Council in April 2014. It includes the chronological list of member states that can host the title from 2020 until 2033. Croatia  and Ireland  will host the event in 2020, and launched their respective competitions in June and December 2014. Romania  and Greece  will host the event in 2021 and launched their national competitions in December 2014. Luxembourg  and Lithuania  will host the event in 2022, and launched their respective competitions in July 2015.

This new framework makes it possible for a city in a candidate country or potential candidate for EU membership, to hold the title every third year as of 2021. This will be selected through an open competition, meaning that cities from various countries may compete with each other. In December 2014, the Commission published a call for the 2021 title.

SOURCES: Municipality of Samos, Municipality of Corfu, European Commission