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Secretary of State, Tessa Jowell, named Liverpool as the UK's nomination for the European Capital of Culture in 2008 at a press conference on 4 June.

What is Capital of Culture?

The European Capital of Culture programme is run by the European Union (EU) and is the successor to the European City of Culture programme, which finishes next year. 

The purpose of the title is not simply to highlight existing cultural excellence, but to encourage cities to develop and innovate in the cultural field. It will be an opportunity to show that culture is central to the life of a city, and demonstrate its contribution to regeneration, social inclusion, education and business.

The European Capital of Culture scheme also aims to promote European cultural co-operation and understanding, and therefore requires a city to mount a programme of European scale and significance.

Under the programme each Member State has been assigned a year for which to nominate a city to hold the title.  The UK will host the European Capital of Culture in 2008 and the DCMS was responsible for managing the competition to select the UK's nomination.  The competition was launched in September 2000. Twelve cities bid to be the European Capital of Culture:

Brighton and Hove
Canterbury and East Kent
Inverness and the Highlands

How was the winner chosen?

An independent advisory panel chaired by Sir Jeremy Isaacs visited each city and examined their bids.  In October last year, the panel chose six cities to go through to the final stage of the competition – Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Liverpool, Newcastle/Gateshead and Oxford. 

For the final stage of the competition, the panel carried out more detailed work on the bids from the shortlisted cities.  Liverpool beat off strong competition from the other cities to win the UK nomination.  More information about the selection criteria, shortlisted cities and Liverpool's winning bid can be found in the panel's report on the short-listed applications for the UK nomination for European Capital of Culture 2008.

What next?

During 2004, a panel whose members are nominated by the EU institutions will assess the nomination and report to the Council of Ministers, which will formally designate the city as European Capital of Culture 2008.

What will happen to the other bidding cities?

To recognise and celebrate the merits of their bids, all the cities shortlisted by the panel will be designated 'Centres of Culture' for 2008.  This is a title given by the UK Government and has no formal standing in the EU.

Additionally, Tessa Jowell has pledged to encourage the development of a cultural programme, encompassing all twelve cities that bid for the nomination. More details about this will be available later this year.


The members of the independent advisory panel were:

Sir Jeremy Isaacs

TV producer and broadcaster (chair)


Sue MacGregor OBE

Broadcaster and journalist (deputy chair)


Dame Judith Mayhew-Jonas

Corporation of London (deputy chair)


Barry Douglas OBE

Concert Pianist


Marc Jordan

Art historian and Businessman


Hilary Lade

Royal Parks Advisory Board Chair


Magnus Linklater

Journalist and Writer


Stewart McGill

Theatrical Director


Tessa Sanderson OBE

Olympian and Vice Chair of Sport England


Miranda Sawyer

Journalist and Writer


Professor Peter Stead



Ruth Wishart

Journalist and Broadcaster




Previous holders of the title European City of Culture are:

1985 Athens

1986 Florence

1987 Amsterdam

1988 Berlin

1989 Paris

1990 Glasgow

1991 Dublin

1992 Madrid

1993 Antwerp

1994 Lisbon

1995 Luxembourg

1996 Copenhagen

1997 Thessaloniki

1998 Stockholm

1999 Weimar.

2000 – nine cities were chosen European Cities of Culture in the Year 2000, these were: Avignon, Bergen, Bologna, Brussels, Helsinki, Kraków, Prague, Reykjavik and Santiago de Compostela.

2001 Rotterdam and Oporto

2002 Brugge and Salamanca

2003 Graz

2004 Genoa and Lille


Countries to host the European Capital of Culture:

2005 Ireland

2006 Greece

2007 Luxembourg

2008 UK

2009 Austria

2010 Germany

2011 Finland

2012 Portugal

2013 France

2014 Sweden

2015 Belgium

2016 Spain

2017 Denmark

2018 Netherlands

2019 Italy



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