Culture is playing an emerging role in EU integration policies. This is a consequence of the inclusion of Article 128 (now Article 151) in the EU Treaty of 1991, the first article in the history of integration that acknowledges the role that culture should play within Europe: "The Community shall contribute to the flowering of the cultures of the Member States, while respecting their national and regional diversity and at the same time bringing the common cultural heritage to the fore".  One may say that of the three pillars of integration defined by the Maastricht Treaty—European Community, Common Foreign and Security Policy, Police and Judicial Co-operation in Criminal Matters—we are witnessing a new way to imagine the EU, this time based on a fourth pillar—the cultural one—which is an offshoot from the first pillar. The emergence of this fourth pillar was endorsed by the "European Agenda for Culture in a Globalizing World" (May 10, 2007) and may be illustrated with European Commission President José Manuel Barroso’s words: "Culture and creativity are important drivers for personal development, social cohesion and economic growth. Today’s strategy, promoting intercultural understanding, confirms culture’s place at the heart of our policies" (European Commission, September 2007 – Eurobarometer). In short, what for Jean Monnet was only a (desirable) utopia—"If I had to do it again, I would begin with culture", is actually taking place with a renewed European cultural integration.

The name of this Jean Monnet Chair "The Culture of European Integration" summarizes two key meanings. Firstly, the fact that culture is paramount for a deepening in European integration. Secondly, the EU ‘Europeanizes’ a former entity, namely, European common culture, which pre-existed the new polity and already predicated the existence of shared values. Through a joint appointment with two schools within the University of Santiago de Compostela: the School of Languages & Literature and the School of Art History, and within two European MA and doctoral networks, this Jean Monnet Chair includes two undergraduate and two graduate seminars with an audience of around 250 national and international students. The underlying aim in all these seminars—from different perspectives—is to pose the "new" question "What Is European Culture?" To say that this question is new may seem astounding inasmuch as European culture—in Ernst Robert Curtius’s words—"embraces a period of some twenty-six centuries (reckoning from Homer to Goethe)". Nevertheless, this question should be asked anew within the context of European integration, materialized through the EU.

The main aim of this Jean Monnet Chair "The Culture of European Integration" however, is to train undergraduate and graduate students in content related to the importance of culture for European integration, inclusive of European literature, translation, cinema, "major" and "minor" languages and literatures, migrant and exile literature, cultural memory and intercultural communication.