European Union set for new accord with China on cultural cooperation

Brussels, 29-11-2012 — / — Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, will reiterate the importance and benefits of increased cultural cooperation between the European Union and China when she meets Ministers and senior officials in Beijing this week (29 November-1 December). During her visit, the Commissioner and Chinese Minister of Culture, Cai Wu, will adopt a new joint declaration on EU-China cultural cooperation and take part in the closing ceremony of the 2012 EU-China Year of Intercultural Dialogue. The Commissioner will also attend the launch of the first Online EU Film Festival in China and a conference on multilingualism aimed at promoting the teaching of EU languages in China and Mandarin in Europe.

“The European Union is committed to strengthening its cooperation with China in the areas of culture, education, youth and multilingualism. This year has seen some important milestones in this process with the launch of our High-Level People-to-People Dialogue and the success of the EU-China Year of Intercultural Dialogue. These initiatives are helping to bring our peoples closer together and I look forward to further deepening our ties during this visit,” said Commissioner Vassiliou.

On 29 November, the Commissioner will attend a gala evening at Beijing’s first art house cinema, the Broadway Cinematheque MOMA, to mark the launch of the 1st Online EU Film Festival and celebrate the 5th ‘traditional’ EU Film Festival, which is taking place in cinemas and cultural centres in four Chinese cities – Beijing, Chengdu, Shenzhen and Tianjin. The Beijing event will include a screening of James Huth’s French romantic comedy Un bonheur n’arrive jamais seul (Happiness never comes alone), starring Sophie Marceau and Gad Elmaleh.

On 30 November, the Commissioner is due to meet State Councillor Liu Yandong, to take stock of the results so far of the People-to-People Dialogue launched in April (IP/12/381), and with Education Minister Yuan Guiren to discuss extending cooperation on joint schools and scholarships to boost learning mobility between the two regions. In the evening she will attend the closing ceremony of the EU-China Year (IP/12/91), which has provided the impetus for nearly 200 events. Together with Minister of Culture Cai Wu she will then adopt the new joint declaration on cultural cooperation, which identifies priority areas of mutual interest such as the creative and cultural sectors, cultural heritage and contemporary arts.

On 1 December Commissioner Vassiliou will address the China-EU Conference on Multilingualism. Organised with the Beijing Foreign Studies University and gathering 200 representatives from China and the EU, the event seeks to encourage training and mobility for language students and teachers. She will then visit the China Europe International Business School, where she will deliver a keynote speech on education and employment.


EU-China Year of Intercultural Dialogue

At the EU-China Summit in 2010, EU and Chinese leaders decided to designate 2012 as the EU-China Year of Intercultural Dialogue. Events and projects that contributed to the objectives of the EU-China Year were granted its official label. Almost 100 multilateral events, involving two or more EU Member States, were part of the Year’s official calendar, from 1 February-30 November. A further 100 bilateral projects also took place, covering all cultural sectors as well as education, research, multilingualism and youth. The EU-China Year of Intercultural Dialogue is the second in a series of thematic years in EU-China relations. 2011 was the EU-China Year of Youth.

EU-China High-Level People-to-People Dialogue

In May 2011, EU and Chinese leaders signed a declaration to extend the scope of their cooperation by creating a ‘third pillar’ of their strategic partnership, through the EU-China High-Level People-to-People Dialogue. This complemented the High-Level Economic and Trade Dialogue (‘first pillar’) and the High-Level Strategic Dialogue (‘second pillar’). The people-to-people dialogue enjoys the same status as the other two dialogues and has a flexible structure with low financial implications. It integrates existing dialogues on education, culture, youth and multilingualism(IP/12/381).

Higher education, multilingualism and youth

The number of Chinese students at European universities has multiplied six-fold between 2000 and 2010, reaching a total of over 120 000. The EU has provided Erasmus Mundus grants to more than 2 000 Chinese students in the past six years, allowing them to study at a European university.Over the next four years, to 2016, the Chinese government has committed to provide 10 000 scholarships to Europeans who wish to study at Chinese universities.

Erasmus for All, the Commission’s proposed new programme for education, training, youth and sport for the period 2014-2020, will be open to non-EU countries, including China, enabling European students and staff to receive grants to go to a non-EU country, as well as for non-EU students and staff to come to study, train or teach in the European Union.

Cooperation in the area of multilingualism between China and the EU has developed rapidly in recent decades and multilingualism is part of the High-Level People-to-People Dialogue. The Commission’s policy aims to promote the teaching and learning of European and Chinese languages at international level, to explore new paths to enrich language training and mobility for language students and teachers, and to underline the important role of languages for cultural exchanges and people-to-people dialogue.

In 2012 the Youth in Action programme provided around €1 million in support for 15 projects involving more than 100 Chinese and European youth organisations. The projects developed joint activities linked to employment, volunteering and active participation of young people in society.


The aim of the 1st Online Film Festival is to enable a larger Chinese audience to see European films. During the visit, Commissioner Vassiliou will explore whether steps can be taken to avoid quotas and facilitate access to films. The European Union’s MEDIA Mundus programme supported screenings of Chinese films such as Back to 1942 by Feng Xiaogang and Judge Archer by Xu Haofeng at the Rome Film Festival, as well as industry meetings between EU and Chinese film-makers at the Udine, Warsaw and Rome film festivals. Each year MEDIA Mundus allocates around €5 million in total for cooperation projects involving EU film professionals and their counterparts from around the globe. The EU-China Trade Project made a number of workshops and study visits possible in the cultural and creative sectors.

Press conferences

Commissioner Vassiliou is due to take part in press conferences at the 1st Online Film Festival (29 Nov, Broadway Cinematheque MOMA, 17:35-17:45); following the adoption of the new joint declaration on EU-China cultural cooperation (30 Nov, National Art Museum of China, 18:40-18:50);and during her visit to the China Europe International Business School (1 December, 14:20-14:30).

For more information

EU-China High-Level People-to-People Dialogue

EU-China Year of Intercultural Dialogue 2012

MEDIA Mundus Programme

EU-China Trade Project

European Commission: Education and training

Androulla Vassiliou’s website

Follow Androulla Vassiliou on Twitter @VassiliouEU

Contacts :

Dennis Abbott (+32 2 295 92 58); Twitter: @DennisAbbott

Dina Avraam (+32 2 295 96 67),

William Fingleton (EU Delegation in Beijing) (+86 108 45 48 000)


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