European Capital of Culture
Conceived as a means of bringing citizens of the European Union closer together, the European City of Culture was launched in 1985 by the Council of Ministers on the initiative of the Greek Minister of Culture Melina Mercouri. Since then, the initiative has been more and more successful amongst European citizens and has had a growing cultural and socio-economic impact on the numerous visitors it has attracted.
The European Cities of Culture were designated on an intergovernmental basis until 2004; member states unanimously selected the cities most likely to welcome the event and the European Commission granted a subsidy to the selected city each year. As of 2005, the EU's institutions take part in the selection procedure of the cities that will host the event.
On 11 March 2006, the German city of Essen (representing the Ruhrgebiet region), the Hungarian city of Pécs and the Turkish city of Istanbul were selected as European Capitals of Culture for 2010 by the EU Council.