European Commission cancels UK bids for European City of Culture

The European Commission has cancelled the UK's bids for city of culture following the exit from the EU. 

Five UK cities have launched bids for the title; Dundee, Nottingham, Milton Keynes and Belfast. The Leeds bid has so far cost over £1 million with the Dundee bid reaching similar levels.

Arts minister John Glen tweeted that it is a 'Crazy decision by European Commission over Capital of Culture 2023. We’re leaving the EU - not Europe! My team at DCMS are speaking with the 5 cities right now on the way forward.'

A £128 m boost for the economy and around 16,000 new jobs were predicted to be generated by Dundee’s bid, which was billed as a “once in a generation showcase for Scotland’s creative and cultural talent." 

The European Commission has effectively now banned the UK from hosting the title - meaning that Glasgow was the last Scottish city to hold the title in 1990. City of culture has previously been hosted by three non-EU cities  - Reykjavik in 2000, Stavanger in 2008, and Istanbul in 2010, but they were pitching to become part of the EU at the time. 

Speaking at First Minister's Questions, Ms Sturgeon said: "I am absolutely dismayed by the news from the European Commission that Dundee's bid looks as if it is going to be latest victim of the Tories' obsession with taking this country out of the Europe Union against its will. They should hang their heads in shame.

"It is deeply concerning that the amount of time, effort and expense that Dundee has put into scoping out its bid could be wasted thanks to the Brexit policy of the Tory Government. "We are now in urgent contact with the UK Government and Dundee to understand the potential implications of this situation and establish what action the UK Government is going to take to address it.

"I call on the Government to make clear why this has happened and how they intend to fix it so that Dundee can continue to aspire to be the European Capital of Culture that it so richly deserves to be."

Explaining the decision, a spokesman for the European Commission said: "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."

Nottingham and Dundee have expressed a wish to make sure all the hard work and energy that has gone into the bid so far is carried forward into positive action for the cities.

Sources: Twitter, BBC, Scotsman. 

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