According to the Office of Cultural Strategy, Planning and Assessment (GEPAC) applications have been submitted by Aveiro, Braga, Coimbra, Évora, Faro, Funchal, Guarda, Leiria, Oeiras, Ponta Delgada, Viana do Castelo and Vila Real.

GEPAC stated that there will be a “pre-selection hearing of candidate cities” with the jury between late February and early March 2022, with the final selection scheduled for the period between the end of next year and the beginning of 2023.

In the past, Portugal has received the title three times: Lisbon, in 1994, Porto in 2001, and Guimarães in 2012.

According to a decision of the European Parliament and the Council, published in the Official Journal of the European Union in 2014, the attribution of the title should be based on a cultural programme with a strong European dimension. This cultural program must form part of a long-term strategy with a sustainable impact on local economic, cultural and social development.

The same document defined that the selection criteria must be very explicit, “in order to better guide the candidate cities with regard to the objectives and requirements they need to meet to win the title”.

The criteria for evaluating the applications comprise six categories: “contribution to the long-term strategy”, “European dimension”, “cultural and artistic content”, “execution capacity”, “projection” and “management”.

Each Member State is responsible for organizing the competition between its cities, according to the timetable, with interested cities having a deadline for submitting applications of at least 10 months after the publication of the call for proposals.

It is then up to the Member States to notify the Commission of their applications.

The European Capital of Culture is a community initiative, which began in 1985 and aims to annually promote the cultural dynamism and quality of life of different cities in Europe.

In 2027, the title of European Capital of Culture will be shared between a Portuguese and a Latvian city.