Answer given by Ms Vassiliou on behalf of the Commission
The Commission shares the concerns of the Honourable Member. Since the second half of 2012, the European Parliament and the Council have been discussing the proposal for a decision establishing a Union action for the European Capitals of Culture for the years 2020 to 2033, which the Commission submitted on 20 July 2012(1) in order to ensure the continuity of this initiative beyond 2019. They have come to an agreement on all issues but one: the EU institution which would be entitled to formally designate the European Capitals of Culture (Article 11 of the proposal). On this point, the Parliament, in line with the Commission's initial proposal, supports a Commission designation. However, the Council favours a Council designation. In the absence of an agreement between the two co-legislators, a second reading might be needed, which would result in postponing the adoption of the decision by a period of time that is difficult to estimate at this stage. This delay might jeopardise the organisation of the European Capital of Culture in 2020. Therefore, the Commission has invited the co-legislators to show flexibility and find a common position. The adoption of such a decision ultimately rests in the hands of the Parliament and the Council. The two co-legislators have indicated that they are ready if necessary to introduce a derogation, which will enable the two Member States who will host the action in 2020 (Croatia and Ireland) to postpone the launch of their calls for submission of applications, and publish them ‘as soon as possible’ after the adoption of the decision. However, such a derogation would be useful only if a decision were to be adopted early in 2014.