Frequently Asked Questions

On this page you can find all frequently asked questions and answers.

The list of frequently asked questions is updated each time a new question is received. This way everyone has the same information. The most recent questions will always be placed at the top. 

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Q&A (22)

Evidence is provided by the enumeration/short presentation of the culture and accommodation infrastructure the city already has (or plans to have by the ECOC title year) and by presenting examples of large cultural events already hosted by the city. If the infrastructure is not ready yet, a realistic timeline must be presented.

Strong evidence is demonstrated by a decision supporting the ECOC project and its budget adopted by the City Council (and by the provincial authorities if relevant) unanimously or at least by a very strong majority. This needs to be included in the 60-page limit, and no additional attachment exceeding this size limit is permitted.

It is possible to deliver the hard copies directly to the reception of the Marie-Elisabeth Belpaire building (Simon Bolivarlaan 17, 1000 Brussels).

Please inform us by e-mail (info@ecoc2030.be) in advance so we can notify the reception.

There are no rules regarding the publication of the bid book before the preselection meeting. It is up to the candidate city to decide whether and when it publishes its preselection bid book. Publication is however a way to ensure transparency and to valorise the work done by all those who have contributed to the development of the bid. Furthermore, in line with the specifications of the call for submission of applications, “By submitting an application, cities accept that their e-application at both pre-selection and selection stages be made public on www.ECOC2030.be and on the website of the Commission at the end of the selection phase”

The Declaration of Honour should be submitted together with the paper and digital application for the preselection and final selection. The declaration can be added to the application as a separate document.

The application (bid book) is to be seen as a strong and formal commitment made by an applicant city to its citizens and cultural community, to the Belgian authorities and to the institutions of the European Union. It is the basis on which the ECOC Expert panel and the European Commission will monitor the progress made by the selected city along the preparatory process until the ECOC title year. Strong adherence to the bid book is a condition for the payment of the 1,5 million Euro Melina Mercouri Prize by the Commission. Though the answers given by a candidate city for the preselection and final selection are not legally binding, they are a de facto contract. Furthermore, by signing the Declaration of Honour, the candidate city and its Mayor declare that they have provided accurate, sincere and complete information and that they are fully eligible in accordance to the criteria set out in the specific call for submission of applications.

The panel seeks to gain insight into the budget for the whole ECOC project, including expenditures for the preparation phase, the title year, and provisions for the legacy. The duration of the preparation phase leading up to the title year varies, depending on the starting year of the expenditure incurred in relationship with the title. The same principle applies for the years following the title year and provisions allocated for the legacy. There is no maximum time period specified. However, the application must at least cover the period between the submission year and the title year, as well as the year after the title year (see table “Planned timetable for spending operating expenditure” under point 5 in the final selection questionnaire).

On the cultureNEXT website, you can access an archive containing all the bidbooks from past candidate cities and titleholders. 

Information on urban development and infrastructure programs, cultural heritage restoration projects and new cultural premises are useful as background and context. The application must ensure that the city has all the equipment necessary to host a project of the scale and scope of a European Capital of Culture, particularly of course cultural infrastructure but also hotel accommodation etc. The application should include all the expenditures related to infrastructural projects of which the realization will ensure the ECOC year happens in good conditions. If the capital expenditures of partners are related to infrastructural projects needed for the ECOC year, then we would suggest that you include them in the list.

The goal is not to impress the panel with a long list of projects, but to give a clear picture of your ambitions as well as what is still needed in terms of infrastructures so that your city can host the event.

At the time of the application the candidate city must have a long-term cultural strategy in place which covers the years before and after the ECOC year. The application must ensure that the ECOC year is not a one-off event and is integrated into the city's long-term cultural goals. The City Council must approve the ECOC project holistically, ensuring funding and legacy commitments without intervening in its cultural content. The city authorities also must publicly commit to this, aligning the ECOC project with the wider cultural strategy of the city. 

Since the title year is under a different legislature, it must be clear in the application whether the strategy and the ECOC project get approval of all (or most of) the political forces withing the City Council. This way, the panel can assess to what extent the strategy and the project are immune from a potential change in the political majority, which is part of the democratic process. The long-term strategy should be finalized and adopted by the time you submit your final selection bid book.

All candidate cities must fill in the common application form laid down in Annex 1 of the Call for Submission. There are different questionnaires for the pre-selection and final selection.

For the pre-selection, the application must comply with the following requirements:

  • All the questions listed in the common application form must be answered. Each section’s questions can be answered separately or jointly.
  • The application can be written in one or more of the official languages of the European Union, with English being mandatory. If there are multiple linguistic versions, they must be identical in content and presentation. The English version of the application will be the working version for the panel. 
  • The English version of the application should not exceed 60 pages in A4 format, including illustrations, graphics or any other visual elements (such as logos).  
  • The application should be written in a font size no smaller than 10-point.


Income from the private sector can include sponsoring, merchandising and income from ticketing. It is up to the candidate city to explain what they include in the amount specified in their candidacy.

The application form contains several questions concerning the city budget for culture (Section 5: Management, a) Finance, city budget for culture):

  • The first question asks about the city’s budget for culture in the past 5 years. It aims to provide insights into the level of support the candidate city has given to culture in recent years, serving as evidence of its commitment to support culture and to measure to what extent the city contribution to the ECOC project is realistic. 
  • The second question asks whether the city intends to allocate funds from its annual budget for culture to finance the title year. If so, the amount has to be specified here and integrated into the table related to the ECOC operating expenditures as part of the income from the public sector or city level. The more binding the level of financial commitment from the city is, the better.
  • The third and final question about the city’s budget for culture assesses the city’s commitment to ensure sustainable support to culture after the ECOC year. In this case, the indicated amount does not need to be voted by the City Council but has the value of a commitment made publicly by the city in a document approved by the city and that is meant to be published. 

The application must indicate the level of financial resources from public funds (City/Region/State) that will be put at the disposal of the ECOC delivery team for conceiving (bidding period), preparing and implementing the ECOC year (ramp in years and ECOC year) and then ensuring legacy. The more binding the level of financial commitment from the City is, the better.

Annex 1 of the call specifies „Candidate cities must clearly answer all the questions below. For each section (1 to 6) questions can be answered separately or jointly.”  

Candidates can number questions or keep them in the bullet point format as long as they clearly answer all the questions. 

An oral presentation by each candidate city, giving an outline of its candidature, has a time limit of 30 minutes. A question/answer session between the Panel and each candidate city has a time limit of 60 minutes.

The competition will be conducted in English

If required, interpreters can be provided during the preselection meeting and the final selection meeting.

Applications must be submitted in English, supplemented if necessary with bidbooks in the national language.

General questions are answered in English through the website. Specific questions are answered by email in the national language.

1. The Melina Mercouri Prize
If you win the selection/are chosen as European Capital of Culture in 2030, the European Commission will award the Melina Mercouri Prize if you meet all the conditions.
This prize amounts to 1.5 million euros.
The European Commission provides preparatory literature, such as:  

2. Flemish and French Communites
The French, Flemish or German-speaking community will provide funding in 2030 for the title year, depending on the authority under which the winning city is situated.

Browse previous selections

Want to get an idea of amounts and investments of previous ECOCs? In that case, it might be interesting to go through the selection reports (with estimates of amounts) or the final evaluation reports of cities through 2018.


The inner front cover and inner back cover will not be included in the 60-page limit providing that they are not used to answer questions included in the questionnaire.

The pre-selection will take place in the week of October 21st, 2024. Candidate cities will be invited to present their candidacies on October 21st, 22nd, or 23rd. A detailed schedule for the pre-selection will be finalized after the cities have submitted their candidacies on September 2nd.

There is no specific format (letter or email) for communicating the intention to apply, but it should come from someone representing the candidate city. 

The aim of this obligation is just to know in advance the number of candidates so that the Ministry can arrange the agenda of the preselection meeting well in advance and inform panel Members. 

The finalist cities will be announced by the chairperson of the panel during a press conference in the auditorium of the Royal Library of Belgium on October 24th, followed by a reception.

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