The UK will not be able to put forward cities to compete in the European Capital of Culture 2023 competition due to Brexit, according to an edict from the European Commission.
The winning city of five in the running to be the UK’s candidate was due to be announced next week. The contenders, submitted at the end of October, were Dundee, Nottingham, Leeds, Milton Keynes, and a joint proposal from Belfast, Londonderry and Strabane.
A letter from the European Commission to the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has said UK participation “would not be possible”.
The DCMS said it was “deeply disappointed” and criticised the Commission for waiting until the UK cities had submitted their bids before communicating the decision to ban them.
The UK government had described the Capital of Culture title as “part of our plan for a dynamic, outward-looking and global Britain” post-Brexit.
The Creative Industries Federation reacted to the news saying it was“gutted” to learn that the UK will not be allowed to host the European Capital of Culture in 2023. “This is despite the fact,” the federation said,“that cities in Europe that are outside the European Union have participated in the scheme historically.”
A spokeswoman for the European Commission Office in Scotland told BBC News: “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.”
The spokeswoman continued: “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.”
A DCMS spokeswoman said that while the UK would be leaving the EU, it was not leaving ‘Europe’.
“We want to continue working with our friends in Europe to promote the long-term economic development of our continent, which may include participating in cultural programmes. We remain committed to working with the five UK cities that have submitted bids to help them realise their cultural ambitions and we are in urgent discussions with the Commission on the matter,” the spokeswoman said.
The winning city of five in the running to be the UK’s candidate was due to be announced next week. Liverpool was the European City of Culture in 2008.