Being shortlisted for the title can result in significant cultural, economic and social benefits for the cities concerned, provided that their bid is part of a longer-term culture-led development strategy.
Once the panel's recommendation has been confirmed by the relevant Hungarian authorities, cities will have until early next autumn to complete their application. The panel will then meet again in Budapest at the end of 2018 to recommend which Hungarian city should become European Capital of Culture in 2023.
Hungary will host the European Capital of Culture for the second time in 2023, after Pécs in 2010.
Following Leeuwarden (The Netherlands) and Valletta (Malta) this year, Matera (Italy) and Plovdiv (Bulgaria) will be European Capitals of Culture in 2019, Rijeka (Croatia) and Galway (Ireland) in 2020, Elefsina (Greece), Timisoara (Romania) and Novi Sad (Serbia, candidate country to EU membership) in 2021, and Kaunas (Lithuania) and Esch-sur-Alzette (Luxembourg) in 2022.
Hungary invited applications from interested cities in February 2017. Seven cities submitted applications: Debrecen, Eger, Gödöllő, Győr Székesfehérvár, Szombathely and Veszprém.
The applications were examined by a panel composed of 12 independent experts, ten of which were appointed by the European Union institutions and bodies, and two by the relevant Hungarian authorities.
The members nominated by the EU institutions and bodies currently are:
- Appointed by the European Commission:
- Beatriz Garcia (Spain), an academic working at the University of Liverpool who has developed extensive expertise in measuring the impact of cultural and sports events;
- Jiří Suchánek (Czech Republic), an expert in the organisation of large scale cultural events and former director of Pilsen, European Capital of Culture 2015;
- Suzana Žilič Fišer (Slovenia), professor and head of media communications department at the University of Maribor and former director general of Maribor, European Capital of Culture 2012.
- Appointed by the Council:
- Ulrich Fuchs (Germany/France), former deputy artistic director and programme director of Linz, European Capital of Culture 2009, and Marseille-Provence, European Capital of Culture 2013;
- Aiva Rozenberga (Latvia), director of the Latvian Institute and former programme director of Riga, European Capital of Culture 2014;
- Pauli Sivonen (Finland), director of Serlachius Museum.
- Appointed by the European Parliament:
- Sylvia Amann (Austria), who specialises in urban, regional and rural development, culture and the creative economy;
- Cristina Farinha (Portugal), expert in the development of creative industries and national cultural strategies;
- Agnieszka Wlazeł (Poland), expert in audience development and former CEO and artistic director of art festivals.
- Appointed by the Committee of the Regions:
- Alain Hutchinson (Belgium), Commissioner of the Brussels Government in charge of relations with European & international organisations and Deputy Mayor of Saint Gilles in charge of education.
According to the current system 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. The selected cities are then officially designated by the Member State concerned.
Created in 1985 from an idea of the then Greek Minister of Culture, Melina Mercouri, the European Capitals of Culture have grown into one of the most ambitious cultural projects in Europe and one of the best known – and most appreciated – activities of the EU. Their objectives are to promote the diversity of cultures in Europe, to highlight the common features they share and to foster the contribution of culture to the long-term development of cities.
European Capitals of Culture also contribute to the 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage as they also celebrate Europe's great achievements in arts, as well as to our traditions and values. Both the European Capitals of Culture and the European Year of Cultural Heritage are unique opportunities to safeguard and promote Europe's cultural diversity, highlight common values and foster the contribution of culture to European societies and economies.