European Union: British cities can't compete as 2023 Capital of Culture host

By Allen Cone  |  Updated Nov. 24, 2017 at 3:33 AM
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Nov. 23 (UPI) -- The European Union has declared that a British city can't become a host city in the 2023 European Capital of Culture because the monarchy is departing the EU.

A letter from the European Commission to the kingdom's Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said British participation "would not be possible.".

Five British cities were competing to be designated for the series of cultural events for one year: Dundee in Scotland, Nottingham, Leeds and Milton Keynes in England and a joint proposal from Belfast, Londonderry and Strabane in Northern Ireland.

Formal bids were submitted in October.

Labour's Tom Watson, the shadow culture secretary, some cities had already spent up to $665,000 on their bid submissions.

Dundee's 80-page bid document included 110 new projects across the city and it was due to make a final presentation next week.

"It is now deeply concerning that the amount of time, effort and expense Dundee have put into scoping out their bid could be wasted thanks to the Brexit policy of the UK government," Scotland's culture secretary Fiona Hyslop said. "We are in urgent contact with the UK government and Dundee to understand the potential implications of this situation and to establish what action the UK government is going to take to address it."

The British government said it warned bidders that the contest "may be subject to the outcome of those exit negotiations." Britain is due to leave the EU in March 2019.

"We disagree with the European commission's decision and are particularly disappointed we have been informed of their new position after UK cities have submitted their final bids," a spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said.

"We will be working closely with the five UK cities that have submitted bids to help them realize their cultural ambitions, and we remain in urgent discussions with the commission on the matter."

Three non-members of the EU were Capital of Culture cities: Reykjavik, Iceland in 2000; Stavanger, Norway in 2008 and Istanbu, Turkey in 2010.

The only two previous British cities were Glasgow in 1990 and Liverpool in 2008.

Liverpool estimated it generated a return of $1 billion to the local economy from spending $226 million in hosting the culture events.

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