3. Purpose, Mission and Vision

Chapter 3

Purpose, Mission and Vision


According to the Articles of Association (Article 2), it is stated that the European Cultural Foundation’s purpose is

Article 2

The objective of the ECF, an organisation in the public interest, is to support and promote cultural activities of a European nature.

The ECF does not aim to make a profit.

In our current context, this means that we develop and support initiatives with a focus on culture, education, climate and civil society that let people share, experience and imagine Europe.


The European Cultural Foundation is committed to promoting a European sentiment through culture and common experience. “The European Cultural Foundation was created for the stimulation of the European sentiment, […], to promote the development and preservation of a feeling of mutual comprehension and democratic solidarity between the peoples of Europe by encouraging cultural and educational activities of common interest.”

Our founding fathers formulated this mission in 1954. This mission is as relevant today as it was 67 years ago, possibly even more so. There is a growing polarisation of societies and simultaneously a lack of civilised debate. Economic divergence is increasing and inequalities are visibly rising. These divisions are leading to fragmentation between countries and polarisation within societies. There is the threat of European disintegration. Europe needs to create a renewed European sense of belonging. By doing so, we can go a long way but without it, Europe is vulnerable to regression and set back. Therefore, promoting a European sentiment through culture and education will continue to be at the heart of what we do – not out of nostalgia but because, despite everything that has been achieved, a European sentiment is still in short supply.


The vision of the European Cultural Foundation is a united Europe that makes a positive contribution to solving the most pressing problems of our times. We are primarily a foundation for Europe that is guided by the European common good. Culture is the space where we in Europe understand how we can live together, understand our identities and feel at home. Culture is key to building European identities.

European identities are not exclusive but made up of many belongings, inclusive of national, regional and migrant belongings and identities. Culture is an ongoing social process that deals with what people and communities believe they have in common. Culture, cultural work, artistic expression and production are all about ‘assigning meaning’ and experiencing and living our values on a daily basis. Culture is the space where human values are permanently discussed, challenged and where we need to defend them. It is the space to question, re-think and refine the essential principles we stand for as Europeans.

Culture is the field that engages people in experiencing, valuing, shaping and imagining Europe as their common public good. As a genuine European foundation, which has focused on the role of culture during our rich 67-year history, this makes us a unique actor in Europe. While, in this sense, we are different from other arts and cultural foundations that have a primarily national or local focus, we work closely with like-minded foundations, including on joint programming.

Europe is more than the EU, but the EU is Europe’s central societal achievement and its key actor. However, the EU is not perfect and needs reform. The European Cultural Foundation will challenge the EU and its member states to live up to the original promise of creating peace, stability and prosperity. We operate in the context of major global challenges – in particular the climate and digital challenge. Europe is no island and has to make a positive contribution to solving the most pressing challenges of our times.

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