After a two-day meeting in Brussels, the chairperson of the European Capitals of Culture Expert panel announced on 20 September that the city of Skopje (North Macedonia) has been recommended for the European Capital of Culture 2028 title in an EFTA/EEA country, candidate country or potential candidate to EU membership.
Margaritis Schinas, Vice-President of the European Commission for Promoting our European Way of Life said:
In 2028, we will once again have a European Capital of Culture beyond the European Union. After Novi Sad (Serbia) in 2022 and the upcoming Bodø (Norway) in 2024, it will be the turn of the city of Skopje (North Macedonia) to take on the mantle for a year.
I am convinced that the city and its region will use this opportunity to reinforce their cultural and social ties with the European Union. I hope that this title will also boost the city’s cultural vibrancy and ambitions, bring culture and cultural heritage right to the heart of its various communities and promote intercultural dialogue in the region.
I am confident that the city of Skopje (North Macedonia) will reap the long-term cultural, economic and social benefits that the European Capital of Culture title can bring.
The selection process
In accordance with the Decision of the European Parliament and the Council, which governs the European Capitals of Culture Union action, there will be three European Capitals of Culture in 2028. One in France, one in Czech Republic and one in an EFTA/EEA country, candidate country or potential candidate to EU membership participating in the current Creative Europe programme.
Regarding the competition between cities in EFTA/EEA countries, candidate countries and potential candidates, the Commission invited applications from cities in December 2021.
The two cities of Budva (Montenegro) and Skopje (North Macedonia) were pre-selected on 16 December 2022. They had until 28 August 2023 to complete their applications and were then invited to a final selection meeting in Brussels on 19 September.
A panel of 10 independent experts appointed by EU institutions and bodies (European Parliament, Council, Commission and Committee of the Regions) examined the applications.
How cities become European Capitals of Culture
According to the current scheme for designating the European Capitals of Culture, the selection has two rounds:
- a pre-selection round, following which a shortlist of candidate cities is drawn up;
- and a final selection round approximately nine months later: one city is then recommended for the title.
The selected cities are then officially designated by the Member State concerned or by the Commission for the competition between cities in EFTA/EEA countries, candidate countries and potential candidates.
The selection criteria state that cities should prepare a cultural programme with a strong European dimension, which fosters the participation of the city's stakeholders as well as its various neighbourhoods and attracts visitors from the whole country and Europe.
The programme must have a lasting impact and contribute to the long-term development of the city. The cities must also show that they have the support from the relevant public local authorities and the capacity to deliver the project.
The next European Capitals of Culture
Each year, two to three cities hold the title of European Capital of Culture. Alongside Skopje, the city of České Budějovice in the Czech Republic (pending formal endorsement by the relevant national authorities) and a city in France (to be selected in December) will also hold the title in 2028.
The three European Capitals of Culture in 2023 are
Other upcoming European Capitals of Culture are:
- 2024: Bad Ischl (Austria), Bodø (Norway) and Tartu (Estonia);
- 2025: Chemnitz (Germany) and Nova Gorica (Slovenia);
- 2026: Oulu (Finland) and Trencin (Slovakia);
- 2027: Evora (Portugal) and Liepaja (Latvia).
Started in 1985, European Capitals of Culture have developed into one of the most ambitious cultural projects in Europe and one of the EU's most appreciated activities.
The goals of this initiative are more relevant than ever:
- to provide Europeans with opportunities to learn more about each other's cultures
- to enjoy their shared history and values
- to experience the feeling of belonging to the same European community
- to develop European cultural connections and partnerships
to underline the role of culture in the development of cities.