European Commission president José Manuel Barroso will launch a Europe-wide consultation on the role of culture in society Monday (Dec. 4) at a Brussels conference gathering artists and policy-makers.

Barroso will invite Europe's "cultural actors and operators" to get involved in the debate over a new European Union policy on culture, spanning music, movies, broadcasting and other arts. Barroso will be joined by EU education and culture commissioner Ján Figel, the commission's education and culture director general Odile Quintin and key figures in European cultural policy.

The conference will feed into a Commission "Communication on Culture," due out in early spring 2007, which will address what Europe can do for culture and what culture can do for Europe.

The paper will analyze the various dimensions of the role of culture in the European project, and take stock of existing efforts while also trying to identify new challenges and possible new avenues for tackling them, in terms of substance and methods.