A new discourse in which culture is increasingly integrated into a policy agenda dealing with innovation policy, and the fostering of growth and economic competitiveness more generally, is currently gaining ground at the EU level. Surprisingly, it is the Directorate-General for Culture, Youth and Education (DG Culture) of the European Commission that has initiated and promoted this policy agenda in an attempt to gain control over policy. The new agenda differs radically from the programmatic discourses formerly promoted by DG Culture, which laid the emphasis on the value of culture for its own sake. By identifying the factors that enabled a small, hardly influential DG to reframe culture as a key factor of economic competitiveness and to impose this programmatic solution both within the Commission and at the intergovernmental level, this article sheds light on the key dynamics of agenda-setting in the EU institutional context. It focuses, essentially, on the nature of the discourse itself, the specificities of conflict expansion strategies at the EU level and the characteristics of the EU political and institutional context.