“Intercultural Dialogue conference - best practices at Community level”
22-23 November 2006 – Headquarters of The Committee of the Regions - Brussels

1. Context:

The decision to declare 2008 the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue underlines the important contribution of intercultural dialogue to a number of the European Union’s strategic priorities:

• The promotion of cultural diversity in Europe and in the world
• A fundamental component of active European citizenship
• A means to promote flexibility and adaptation to the changes in human resources brought about by the success of the Lisbon strategy
• A solidarity dimension at the service of social cohesion
• An element of credibility in policies towards neighbouring countries and external relations in general

Through its policies and programmes, the Directorate-General for Education and Culture (DG EAC) plays a central role in implementing the first three priorities and contributes, together with other Commission services, to the implementation of the last two.

The Year is intended to highlight and raise awareness about this important priority, and intercultural dialogue will, from now on, be a central theme for the activities of the Directorate-General (above and beyond the cultural sector), while at the same time including cooperation with other Commission departments, particularly those dealing with non-discrimination, social cohesion and external relations.

Ultimately, however, the success and impact of the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue in 2008 will depend on the active involvement of civil society and implementation at the grassroots level. This is essential to ensure that it becomes a long-lasting and durable process extending beyond 2008.

2.Objectives of the conference and exhibition:

The programmes run by DG EAC in particular, and those managed by other Commission services, have already been supporting projects on the theme of intercultural dialogue for several years.

Against this backdrop, the aims of the conference are to:

• Present the concept of intercultural dialogue and examine it from different perspectives by presenting concrete examples;
• Increase the visibility of initiatives carried out with the support of Community funding. This will entail presenting the public with a range of good practices and initiatives which have had a real impact, and presenting effective tools and measures to show how dialogue between citizens of different cultures can improve the quality of their lives at work, during their studies, as well as more generally;
• Identify useful “models” to be supported in the future by the programmes and in the context of the 2008 Year, whether at national, regional or sectoral level;
• Examine the most appropriate ways of ensuring that initiatives from the European Year have a lasting impact;
• Reflect on the means and structures which help to promote knowledge of good results and thereby increase their impact.

3. The conference (22 – 23 November 2006)

The conference will bring together potential partners for the European Year and allow promoters of good projects to meet potential users. A total number of approximately 160 participants are foreseen, comprising decision-makers, Member State representatives (in particular contact points for the European Year), Members of the European Parliament, members of the Committee of the Regions, civil society stakeholders, such as social partners, representatives of associations and foundations, schools, universities, the cultural world.

4. Other activities/initiatives foreseen

An exhibition of 20 projects supported by the programmes/initiatives of DG EAC and other Commission services will be organised within the margins of the conference, demonstrating tangible results, first-hand testimonies and experiences, etc.

A study on the approaches and the experiences of the Member States regarding intercultural dialogue will be carried out in 2006/2007. This study should present the conceptual approaches and political developments and/or debates in each Member State, as well as a palette of national initiatives judged to be particularly pertinent at national, regional or local level.

The dimension of “intercultural dialogue” should be clearly integrated into the preparation of the new DG EAC programmes for 2007 – 2013 and in the preparation of the first calls for proposals.

Finally, the dimension of “intercultural dialogue” will also be taken into account in the development of the policies of the Directorate General, above and beyond its programmes.