The opening ceremonies for Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture in 2008. Photo: Jon Super

After Brexit, EU Rules British Cities Cannot Be Capitals of Culture

The European Union has announced that Britain can no loner host the European Capital of Culture in 2023. The decision comes after Britain and Hungary had previously been designated as the countries that would be honored with the title. Five cities had already submitted formal proposals for the yearlong program of cultural events: Dundee, Nottingham, Leeds, and Milton Keynes, and, in a joint proposal, Belfast, Derry, and Strabane, had prepared bids.

“We are gutted to learn that the UK will not be allowed to host the European Capital of Culture as planned in 2023 after Brexit,” the Creative Industries Federation, the national organization for the UK’s creative industries, said in a statement on Wednesday. “People are working feverishly behind the scenes to reverse this decision and the Federation stands ready to mediate between the European Commission and the UK government's Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport on this matter.”

Only countries that are part of the European Union or the European Economic Area are eligible to be named the European Capital of Culture. Since the UK will have officially left the EU by March 29, 2019, the European Commission said that “it makes common sense to discontinue the selection process now.”

According to The Guardian, two other UK cities were previously named capitals of culture: Glasgow and Liverpool. When Liverpool was given the honor in 2008, it brought more than $980 million to the local economy after spending around $226 million.

In response to the EU’s decision, Tom Watson, a member of the Labor Party, told The Guardian, “The government must now explain how they intend to ensure that Brexit does not leave us culturally isolated from Europe and how the economic and cultural benefits that accompany the European capital of culture will be maintained.”