On 29 March, the winner of the competition to select the European Capital of Culture (ECOC) for the year 2022 was announced at a ceremony held in the Ministry of Culture. Kaunas was named the winner of the competition.
Granting the ECOC title to the city of Kaunas was recommended by a 10-member panel of independent experts delegated by EU institutions. In the second phase of the competition, the ECOC title was competed by Kaunas and Klaipėda. The two cities won this right after successfully overcoming the pre-selection phase, in which Anykščiai, Jonava, Plungė and Rokiškis also participated.
“The actions of the European Capital of Culture will mature the perception of the fundamental role of culture, foster self-confidence, society and the state. This is a chance to concentrate and demonstrate the potential of culture to accelerate social, economic and urban development processes, which will not be local but will have influence on the entire Lithuania. This project is important at national level, and therefore, appropriate support from the Government is provided for it”, Liana Ruokytė-Jonsson, the Minister of Culture, said in her welcoming speech to the winners of the competition.
The ECOC selection procedure was started in Lithuania in 2015, following a decision of the European Parliament and the Council. The Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania drew up rules of procedure for the 2020 European capital of culture title in the Republic of Lithuania and invited cities to submit their applications. The competition took place in two phases. The cities shortlisted for the second phase had to supplement their applications in accordance with the recommendations presented by the experts. A visit of the experts to Klaipėda was arranged on 27 March 2017, and they visited Kaunas the next day. The final selection competition took place in the Ministry of Culture on 29 March.
European Capitals of Culture have been announced since 1985. This initiative is considered to be the most successful project of the European Union in the field of culture. During this period, more than 60 cities in various countries have been nominated and all of them had an opportunity to attract attention at a national and international levels.
Each year, the title of the European Capital of Culture is granted to one city in each of two member states. In 2022, the right to receive the title of the European Capital of Culture is granted to the cities of Lithuania and Luxembourg.