Culture, Heritage and Diversity

Cultural policy review programme


Programme context

Initiated in 1986, and based on the OECDís method of "education system review", the Council of Europeís flagship programme of cultural policy reviews assesses policies in member states at the request of the Government/ Minister of Culture to afford comprehensive analysis and advice, geared to optimising policy so that it provides the greatest benefit to its country's citizens.


Cultural policy models applied in Europe differ greatly: i.e., in the way they are interlinked with other national policies, the degree of centralisation, the share of public subsidies allocated, the priority given to key sectors such as heritage or contemporary arts, etc.


Yet, they are generally based on common values such as democracy, justice, equality and pluralism. The focus on key principles in cultural policy facilitates a functional approach to evaluation, which still takes account of national particularities.


Main principles held by the Council of Europe in cultural matters

  • Respect of identity and promotion of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue

  • Respect of freedom of expression, of association, of opinion (cf. the articles of the European Convention on Human Rights)

  • Support of creativity

  • Promotion of cultural participation, democratisation of culture and cultural democracy

In the framework of the National Cultural Policy Review Programme several countries have engaged in review and debate over the aims, models and outcomes of their policies, to glean information, analyse trends and potential, and submit this work to an independent group of experts. Turkey is the 30th country having concluded a review (2013). The Russian Federation finalised work in spring 2013 on a regionally and thematically focused review. In 2014/15, Serbia undertook a thematic review. Member states are welcome to join the project and have their cultural policies analysed or a previous policy review updated in the light of recent developments.


Working methods

In each country, the ministry responsible for cultural affairs prepares a national background report describing the country's cultural policy and actual situation. A group of independent European experts that may include experts from Ministries of Culture set up by the Council of Europe examines this work and conducts visits to the country concerned; before writing up its own report, which, inter alia, proposes recommendations that would help optimise orientations and policies, legislation, and practical approaches.


Both the national and expert reports are presented to the Steering Committee for Culture, Heritage and Landscape of the Council of Europe in the presence of the Minister of Culture or hight-level reprentative of the country reviewed. A national presentation and debate in the country concerned concludes the review procedure, which may be followed by technical assistance / capacity building activities. Two years after the review, the country reports back to the Council of Europe on the implementation of the recommendations made and has its policies monitored through the Council of Europe's Compendium system. A new methodology as of 2011 offers regionally and thematically focused reviews, carried out by joint research teams (national / international) that produce one single report with recommendations.



A comprehensive cultural policy review is not appropriate in all cases. To study very specific policy aspects or a certain sector in more depth, transversal and sectorial reviews have been introduced (see  activity on European Film Policy).


Over the years, the Council of Europe review programme has created a wealth of information, resulting from the analysis and evaluation of the cultural policies and systems of a growing number of countries. This has served as basis for the creation of a unique online information and monitoring system of cultural policies in Europe: the Compendium. The Compendium is being currently extended into a world-wide information system (World CP) overseen by IFACCA.


List of reviews

30 national reviews

Transversal and sectorial reviews


Recent reviews

30th policy review: Turkey (October 2013)

29th policy review: Russian Federation (May 2013)




List of publications



Kathrin Merkle
+33 388 41 28 84

Related activities

Information and monitoring system on cultural policies in Europe: the Compendium