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At the close of the informal meeting of EU Culture Ministers, held in Luxembourg on 26 and 27 June 2005, Octavie Modert, Secretary of State for Culture, summed up the work as follows:
"The Luxembourg Presidency has worked hard in the culture domain. We are fortunate to be able to prove and demonstrate that there is no standstill in Europe. There is still a will to forge ahead. There is no weariness in regards to Europe, but there is still the will to build, to continue to build, to forge it and to continue to make the Union closer between the people. But culture has much to contribute in this respect. Jean Monnet reportedly said ‘if Europe had to be rebuilt, I would start with culture.’ Europe does not have to be rebuilt. But Europe is to be rediscovered and constantly needs to be rediscovered."
Octavie Modert then spoke about the seminars organised for this purpose by the Luxembourg Presidency of the EU. There were two seminars: the ‘European Culture Forum: Rediscovering Europe’ and ‘Cultural Tourism, a challenge for European integration.’ She continued: "We want to continue to encourage reflection on the cultural and economic evolution of this key sector for European integration. Because what better way to get to know each other better and to mutually respect one another than by travelling to the respective EU countries." Next Octavie Modert presented the joint French-Luxembourgish initiative to set up a cultural itinerary of the founding fathers of Europe. This initiative seems to be warmly welcomed by the other countries involved. "This initative seems to me to be a particularly worthwhile one at a time when European citizens want to return together to the origins and history of European integration in order to exercise a European identity."
Octavie Modert subsequently spoke of the 'European Culture Capital' initiative, which according to her is "one of the most tangible and known accomplishments of the Europe of Culture."
Again according to Octavie Modert, "one of the lessons of our Presidency is that Europe is still in the process of learning and that we must be aware that we must listen to civil society. Europe cannot become the common cause of all Europeans if the citizens, both men and women, do not feel directly concerned by the European project. Nothing could be more natural than taking the cultural domain as an argument to support this. Culture is supposed to bring us together. Culture lends itself to a better awareness of one another. Now it is up to us to come together in our daily political action that unites us and creates a certain European identity. We will move ahead in the interest of subsidiarity, but also by diversity, diversity in unity, which is one of the foundations of the future European constitution. All of this fits in with subsidiarity. A subsidiarity that continues to be one of the foundations of cultural action in Europe. There are lessons that can serve a purpose from a European and Community point of view and converge toward the national levels."
The conclusions the ministers drew in this regard pertain to cultural industries, such as the music and publishing industry. "We have observed that the cultural industries are a backbone of the economy of the future, and that they play an essential role in the production and dissemination of artistic creation. In the Lisbon Strategy, culture plays a key role as a creative industry."
The ministers also addressed architectural policy and quality. According to the words of Octavie Modert, they observed a "commitment and support, from both government and from architecture, for joint responsibility for the creation of a new lifestyle that can provide good examples throughout Europe as lifestyles that are liveable and that respect the diversity of peoples."
Octavie Modert also spoke of the upcoming launch of a new programme for the digital preservation of heritage.
All these initiatives organised by the Luxembourg Presidency led Octavie Modert to conclude "that it is clear that the cultural fact is a major part of building Europe. It is also clear that national identity on one side, and common roots on the other, are not opposites - quite to the contrary. Cultural policy is a policy unto itself. What is especially important to us, through these highly concrete accomplishments, is to achieve mutual awareness and understanding, as well as a dialogue among the populations and civilisations. This dialogue is one very important component of democracy. One is not always aware of the role that culture plays in bringing peoples closer together."
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