Cultural diplomacy by The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)
By EESC Vice President Anna Maria Darmanin
When I read Dr. Milton C. Cummings's definition of cultural diplomacy “the exchange of ideas, information, values, systems, traditions, beliefs, and other aspects of culture, with the intention of fostering mutual understanding” I cannot help to think that this is also a very appropriate description of the work that we do here at the European Economic and Social Committee, EESC.
The EESC is a unique channel for the active involvement of civil society in the evolution of Europe, up to the highest level. It gives practical expression to the principle of participatory democracy in the EU, and fosters "active citizenship" and social solidarity. Whereas representative democracy enables individuals to elect others to take decisions on their behalf, participatory democracy encourages them to take action themselves to improve their living environment. Both are vital to a healthy society.
Cultural diplomacy has the initiation to facilitation the exchange of ideas whether they promote national interests, build relationships, or enhance socio-cultural understanding. This also a part of the work of the EESC members. By representing the organized civil society: employers, trade unions, farmers, consumers, liberal professions, SMEs in the European sphere they contribute to facilitating the exchange of ideas between the civil society and the decision makers in the EU.
The EESC is a constant source of innovation and new ideas, flowing from the grass roots into the heart of Europe and expressed through ‘own-initiative’ and ‘exploratory’ opinions. In short, the EESC is a dynamic and forward-looking influence within the EU.