Brexit blow to UK 2023 culture crown bids

Image copyright Alan Richardson
Image caption Dundee was one of five UK cities hoping to host the title in 2023

The UK will not be able to compete in the European Capital of Culture 2023 competition due to Brexit, the European Commission has confirmed.

Five UK cities were bidding to host the title, with the winner expected to be announced next week.

A letter from the European Commission to the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said UK participation “would not be possible”.

It said the UK’s selection process should “immediately be discontinued”.

Dundee, Nottingham, Leeds, Milton Keynes and Belfast / Derry submitted their final bid proposals at the end of October.

The DCMS said it “disagreed” with the European Commission’s stance and was “deeply disappointed” that the Commission had waited until the UK cities had submitted their bids before “communicating this new position to us”.

The UK government said previously that the title was “part of our plan for a dynamic, outward-looking and global Britain” post-Brexit.

However, it had warned bidders that the contest “may be subject to the outcome of those exit negotiations”.

‘Urgent discussions’

A spokeswoman for the European Commission Office in Scotland told BBC News: “As one of the many concrete consequences of its decision to leave the European Union by 29 March 2019, the UK cannot host the European Capital of Culture in 2023.

“According to the rules adopted by the European Parliament and the Council (Decision 445/2014), this action is not open to third countries except candidate countries and European Free Trade Association/European Economic Area countries.

“Given that the UK will have left the EU by 29 March 2019, and therefore be unable to host the European Capital of Culture in 2023, we believe it makes common sense to discontinue the selection process now.”

A DCMS spokeswoman said: “The prime minister has been clear that while we are leaving the EU, we are not leaving Europe and this has been welcomed by EU leaders.

“We want to continue working with our friends in Europe to promote the long-term economic development of our continent, which may include participating in cultural programmes.

“We remain committed to working with the five UK cities that have submitted bids to help them realise their cultural ambitions and we are in urgent discussions with the Commission on the matter.”

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