Just when we think all the big news around Brexit has already developed and the formal negotiations for a mutually beneficial deal were left to go, the European Commission pulled a new legal argument out of its sleeve – discontinuing the participation of the United Kingdom in its bid to become the European Capital of Culture 2023.
In a letter sent this Tuesday, 22 November, written by Martine Reicherts, DG in the Commission’s Education and Culture Department, to the Secretary of the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, she reminded us that the UK Department had warned participants they: “should be aware that the ECOC title may be subject to the outcome of the exit negotiations” and cited Decision 445/2014/EU that: “This Action is not opened to third-countries, except for candidate countries and EFTA and EEA countries.”
Despite previous reassurances that the Brexit vote would not affect the U.K.’s chances to host the 2023 ECOC, just a week before the announcement of the shortlist for the 2023 EU cultural accolade, the European Commission has declared the U.K.’s participation “impossible”. The five UK places bidding to hold the title in 2023 – Dundee, Nottingham, Leeds, Milton Keynes and Belfast/Derry – were “immediately discontinued” from the selection procedure.
Regardless of Theresa May’s statement that Britain is only leaving the EU, but not Europe, her decision to pursue a hard Brexit and leave the single market resulted in the country falling off the EU cultural map.
Naturally, the UK Government is disappointed that the Commission has come to its decision after bids have been submitted and substantial finances already invested.
Nottingham will not have the official privilege – awarded to Glasgow in 1990 and Liverpool in 2008 – to highlight the richness and diversity of cultures in Europe.
A UNESCO City of Literature, home to Lord Byron, Robin Hood, and one of the largest contemporary art centres in the U.K., Nottingham is a leader in culture and creativity, and the town will continue its aim at “breaking the frame” by working to implement as many of the positive actions planned as part of the bid.
As a pan-European company, with 6 EU nationalities represented in its Nottingham office alone, EVS Translations responded to the request of ITV News Central for a reaction. Our Bulgarian, German and British translation and I.T. staff gathered to discuss their views and express their disappointment. Radoslav Gulev celebrated victory in his home country, Bulgaria, when it won European Capital of Culture 2109 for Plovdiv. Now he finds himself commiserating with his colleagues in his host country. On his experience of Bulgaria’s victory he explained: “People have a high expectation about the positives and benefits. Both economically and for cultural exchange…so it’s sad for Nottingham”.
The team at EVS Translations hopes many positive plans and ideas can still come to fruition for Nottingham despite this decision by the European Commission.