This article inspects discursive shifts in the EU’s cultural policy and how these relate to the four ‘generations’ of EU cultural programmes: Raphaël, Ariane, Kaleidoscope; Culture 2000; Culture 2007; and the current Creative Europe programme. This paper therefore accounts for a ‘discursive journey’ that started in the 1970s and culminated with Article 128 in the Maastricht Treaty, which formally constituted the EU’s cultural policy. The article reveals that there can be detected certain shifts in discourses concerning the EU’s cultural programmes, but these shifts are aligned to older discourses within the cultural sector which, prior to the Maastricht Treaty, applied implicit cultural interventions. These therefore represented ‘camouflaged’ cultural understanding and appliances, which were instrumental and promoted economically and politically induced discourses. The major shift detected in the recent Creative Europe programme is a step away from discourses that facilitate the political construction of a ‘people’s Europe’, thereby utilising further discourses that promote aims which adhere to the Union’s Europe 2020 Strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.