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UK will not be allowed to host European Capital of Culture after Brexit vote

Agnes Chambre

2 min read

Five British cities have been told they must withdraw their bids for the 2023 European Capital of Culture because of Brexit.

The European Commission stated the UK’s application should be “discontinued”, despite the scheme being open for other countries outside the EU. 

The UK had been set to host the capital in six years’ time. Leeds, Dundee, Nottingham, Milton Keynes and Belfast/Derry were all possible candidates. 

But in a letter seen by Politico, the EU director-general for Education and Culture, Martine Reicherts said this would “not be possible”. 

“After consulting relevant services of the Commission, I would like to inform you that following its withdrawal from the European Union, the participation of the United Kingdom in the European Capital of Culture Union action will not be possible,” she said.

Cities outside the EU are allowed to apply, but only if they are in EU candidate countries or members of the European Economic Area or European Free Trade Agreement.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said the decision was “deeply disappointing” and said the Government to have “urgent” talks with the Commission on the matter. 

The Government added the contest was "part of our plan for a dynamic, outward-looking and global Britain" following the UK’s withdrawal but had warned bidders the title "may be subject to the outcome of those exit negotiations".

A spokeswoman for the European Commission Office in Scotland told the BBC: "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."

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