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WP4 - EU Cultural and Science Cooperation: From the Outside Looking In

Work Package 4 intends to offer a view on European cultural and science diplomacy from outside the EU looking in by asking what partners from the Mediterranean regions think and what they expect from EU cultural and science diplomacy. The WP also examines the role of modern media communications in the perceptions of Europe in selected MENA and Central Asian countries.


Recognising that culture, norms and values are not the same, cultural interactions between the states can be seen either as cultural borrowings, exchanges or impositions. This WP works from an assumption that these competing views are not irreconcilable. Societies, individuals, civilisations and cultures nurture their existence through cultural diversity and dialogue. Cultural diplomacy will be at its most important, and most delicate, for Europe where civilisations meet and where the tension of long historical standing is at its greatest.


The WP analyses the impact of EU cultural and science diplomacy in the immediate European neighbourhood from the late 20th century to the present with a view to identifying lessons learned and policy options for the future. It compares the EU policies and practices in contrasting settings in Muslim-majority countries ranging from those with theocratic regimes to others with ostensibly secular constitutions. Here, the challenge is to make a clear distinction between cultural, science and innovation diplomacy on the one hand and overly assertive European cultural and economic activity on the other. The concept of overly assertive diplomacy is used to distinguish it from imperialism and colonialism with historical connotations of formal control.


With these constraints in mind, this WP aims to:


  1. Study and comprehend how cultural (mis-)understanding can facilitate (or impede) science, and cultural diplomacy and promote (or undermine) peaceful relations between neighbours.

  2. Explore the role of science as education. That is, science as "knowledge for knowledge’s sake" as a vehicle for the promotion of successful inter-cultural dialogues.

  3. Facilitate the EU’s cultural, science and innovation diplomacy with states in the MENA region (in this case, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt) and Turkey; recognising that these states have been historically torn between the Western and the Islamic world.

  4. Explore the role of women in culture and science in Europe compared to the MENA region.

  5. Investigate the role in cultural and scientific diplomacy of the Foreign Correspondents from Central and East Asia and MENA regions based in Europe.


The overall aim of this WP is offer a view on how cultural differences can contribute positively to relations between Europe and these partners. This WP cannot cover the major economic, political and strategic relations between Europe, MENA and Turkey. The approach to be adopted is more modest. It will map recent European cultural and science diplomacy actions in these countries with the aim of identifying success stories and best practices at all levels.


The WP4 work is undertaken by EMUNI, CEDS and VUB.

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