The objective of the European Capital of Culture (ECC) programme is promotion of greater mutual acquaintance and intercultural dialogue between European citizens. The ECC plays a crutial role in searching for the new identity of united Europe.
The attention of the entire Europe focuses for one year on cities hosting the ECC event. They are offered a unique chance and may contribute to solving the issues which are important for our continent as well as accelerate their development and promote themselves effectively.
One of the objectives of the European Union is the promotion of Europe's cultural richness. This task is fulfilled (inter alia) by means of the programme launched in 1985 on the initiative of Melina Mercouri, the Greek Minister of Culture, under the name of the European City of Culture. It was Athens that was the first European City of Culture.
In 1999 the European City of Culture programme was renamed the European Capital of Culture and the principles regarding the selection of the title-holders were modified. In 2005 a new contest procedure and the chronology of locating the ECC in particular countries were established. Each year two European countries are designated European Capitals of Culture. In 2016 one Polish city and one Spanish city will be designated to hold the title of the ECC.
As regards Poland's participation in the ECC programme, it dates back to the year 2000, when the European Union put a lot of efforts aimed to strengthen cultural bonds throughout the world. For this purpose as many as 8 cities were selected to co-hold the title of the European Capital of Culture. It was Cracow that became the Polish ECC.
In the fourth quarter of 2010 the jury of 6 experts designated by the Polish Minister of Culture and 7 representatives of the European Commission will select the short list of the Polish finalists. In the second half of 2011 the results of the contest will be announced and the commission will designate one Polish city and one Spanish city to hold the title of the European Capital of Culture. Apart from Wrocław, the candidate cities include: Białystok, Gdańsk, Lublin, Łódź, Katowice, Poznań, Szczecin, Toruń and Warsaw.
The cities winning the contest will become Europe's cultural centres for the period of one year. During this time a lot of festivals, concerts, conferences and other artistic and cultural enterprises will be held; they will attract attention of the inhabitants of the city, region and country as well as of the entire continent.