Commissioner Dalli: Eurovision ‘undisputed element’ of European shared cultural identity

Eurovillage, Valentino Park: Helena Dalli [ALFERO/EC]

Artistic events bring people together, overcoming divisions and barriers, and as such, the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) is an “undisputed element” of the European shared cultural identity, which could this year help renew the call for peace on the continent, according to Maltese EU Commissioner Helena Dalli.

Helena Dalli is the European Commissioner for Equality.

She spoke to EURACTIV’s journalist Gerardo Fortuna on the sidelines of a concert organised on the occasion of Europe Day (9 May) in Turin, the host city of this year’s Eurovision, by the regional representation of the European Commission in Milan.

What role can artistic events play in fostering European identity?

Artistic events bring people together and transcend divisions and barriers.

All Europeans have a reaction to the mention of the Eurovision Song Contest – some are fanatic about it, others love to watch it, while others not so much.

What I can say is that none of the people I know would answer back ‘What is it?’ Today, the Eurovision Song Contest is massive and it is an undisputed element of our European shared cultural identity.

We usually talk about a Europe made up of policies, but this concert organised by the Commission celebrated the EU through music.

The Europe Day concert in Turin, ahead of this year’s ESC edition, celebrated the European project and European shared initiatives. We celebrated our willingness to come together regardless of nationality or other differences and instead celebrate our diversity.

Why is an event like Eurovision important this year and what significance does it have at the EU level?

The Russian aggression against Ukraine rocked the European continent’s expectation of peace and prosperity. I, therefore, hope that the Eurovision Song Contest helps us renew our call for a peaceful continent where the only rivalries between nations take place in music halls and sports venues.

The Brief – Why Eurovision matters

This year it will be remarkably tough to keep politics separate from the running of the world’s most-followed singing contest – and that is also why EURACTIV is stepping in with dedicated coverage of the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC).

Even though non-EU countries are also taking part in Eurovision, do you think the event can help affirm some of the Union’s founding values, such as equality, non-discrimination, and the fight for inclusion?

The diversity among nations and the artistic assortment expressed on stage makes the Eurovision Song Contest the most followed non-sporting event.

I believe the contest’s expansion eastwards, thus having the contest cover the whole of the European continent, was one of its most significant developments.

The themes of the songs and the diversity of the artists are bound to generate discussion. This year will not be an exception.

Do you have a favourite memory or moment related to Eurovision? What do you expect this year?

I have several memories since the Eurovision keeps reshaping itself and changing year upon year.

This year, I expect the same high standard and the usual surprises that keep us watching and talking about it. I hope that this event will also help Europeans reflect on matters related to unity, togetherness and our shared future. We are stronger together.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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