European Commission Publishes Proposal for the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018

European Commission Publishes Proposal for the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018

Brussels / The Hague, 30 August 2016 – In time for the political rentrée in September, the European Commission has today published its long-awaited proposal for the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018. After the initial announcement by EU Commissioner Tibor Navracsics in April 2016, the Commission’s detailed proposal now sets the framework in which the European Year will take place. It sends a strong signal to both citizens and policy-makers that cultural heritage matters for Europe and is at the heart of what connects peoples, cities, regions and countries in Europe.

The European Year as proposed by the European Commission will help promoting how cultural heritage contributes to cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue, to the economy and society and promote it as a key element of EU’s international dimension. The Commission proposes to implement the year by using existing EU programmes under which cultural heritage is eligible for funding, ranging from Creative Europe to Horizon 2020 but also specific actions such as the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage, which is organised by Europa Nostra. Given the importance of this Year also beyond the heritage world, Europa Nostra hopes that the EU institutions will find a way of finding adequate funding for the Year. Besides mentioning Europa Nostra as one of the key stakeholders consulted in the process, the proposal also explicitly refers to one of Europa Nostra’s recent flagship projects, ‘Cultural Heritage Counts for Europe’, which was funded by the EU Culture Programme, as a source of existing expertise.

Europa Nostra’s President Plácido Domingo welcomed the proposal and called on civil society: “The European Year of Cultural Heritage should be a year of discovery for the peoples of Europe: learning about our common cultural heritage, how it connects us across the continent. It is an open invitation to dive into history, enjoy outstanding heritage sites and share one’s passion for their beauty with people from all over Europe and beyond. Let this not be just a title – let us all work together to make this year the spark that initiates a Renaissance of Europe. Europa Nostra will give cultural heritage a voice during this year – a voice to inform, to teach, to help discovering, to exchanges ideas and – above all – to enjoy our common heritage together!”

Europa Nostra as pan-European federation of heritage NGOs is actively preparing for the European Year by mobilising its wide network. In November, its Council and Board will convene to decide on an ambitious Action Plan for 2017-2019 to ensure civil society will contribute to the fullest to the year. Likewise, Europa Nostra’s leadership is working towards making its 2018 annual congress one of the highlights of the year: a European Heritage Summit in Berlin.

“Europa Nostra stands ready to actively and creatively support the preparation of the Year now. We are working with our members and members of the European Heritage Alliance 3.3., our partners and supporters from across Europe together to make the European Year of Cultural Heritage a memorable one for citizens in Europe and beyond. Civil society should be at the heart of shaping this Year. It should not have an end – on the contrary, it should be the start of something more, more Europe and more passion for cultural heritage!” stressed Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, Secretary-General of Europa Nostra.

The Commission’s proposal to make 2018 the European Year of Cultural Heritage follows a series of important policy developments at European level, such as the Council conclusions of May 2014 on cultural heritage as a strategic resource for a sustainable Europe, the Commission’s 2014 communication Towards an integrated approach to cultural heritage for Europe and the European Parliament’s respective resolution of September 2015. However, it is the result of joint efforts both from the European institutions, national policy-makers and civil society organisations that the European Year of Cultural Heritage will take place in 2018 – and its success will also depend on joint efforts as European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Tibor Navracsics also highlighted: “Our cultural heritage is more than the memory of our past; it is the key to our future. A European Year of Cultural Heritage will be an opportunity to raise awareness of the social and economic importance of cultural heritage and to promote European excellence in the sector. I call on the European Parliament and Council to support our proposal and invite all stakeholders to help make this Year a success.”

Europa Nostra calls on all its members, laureates and supporters to join forces for the European Year of Cultural Heritage. We are now gathering input and ideas from across our network for greater synergies and cooperation. Are you planning events or projects for 2018 or in the run-up to it? Share your plans, ideas and suggestions with us! Let us know by sending an email to our Brussels office:

The decision of the European Parliament and of the Council can be found here.
The European Commission press release can be found here.

Plácido Domingo delivers message on European Year of Cultural Heritage to President Juncker

Plácido Domingo, in his capacity as President of Europa Nostra, congratulated Jean-Claude Juncker on the crucial decision recently taken by the President of the European Commission to organise a European Year of Cultural Heritage in 2018 and reiterated that Europa Nostra and its leadership stand ready to contribute to the successful implementation of this initiative which is so fundamental for Europe and its citizens. This special message was conveyed by Plácido Domingo to Jean-Claude Juncker during their meeting held on the afternoon of 18 May 2016 at the EC headquarters in Brussels, where Maestro Domingo, in his capacity of Honorary Chairman of IFPI – International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, was received by the EC President.

Jean-Claude Juncker, Placido Domingo
Jean-Claude Juncker, Placido Domingo

In his letter delivered to President Juncker, Plácido Domingo stated: “Europa Nostra has been one of the main supporters of the European Year of Cultural Heritage. We are therefore extremely pleased that all EU Institutions, including the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament, agreed that such a Year has the potential to generate the much needed positive energy and cohesive force between communities and citizens in Europe. Our position is shared by all 36 European networks which form part of the European Heritage Alliance 3.3. which was initiated and is coordinated by Europa Nostra.”

President Juncker was also presented with a copy of the Report ‘Cultural Heritage Counts for Europe’ (CHCFE) – recently produced by Europa Nostra together with 5 other European partners – which demonstrates the positive impact of cultural heritage on Europe’s economy, society, culture and environment.

“In the light of so many challenges – and also many threats Europe and the entire European project are facing today, we strongly believe that our culture and our cultural heritage constitute a strategic resource with a cohesive force for Europe. We therefore encourage you and your team to use this resource in a much more prominent way as a tool for achieving the European Commission’s policy priorities,” advocated the President of Europa Nostra.

European Commission proposes European Year of Cultural Heritage in 2018

European Commission proposes European Year of Cultural Heritage in 2018

The day of 19 April 2016 shall be remembered as a historic day for our ever-growing European movement for cultural heritage. During the opening session of the bi-annual European Culture Forum in Brussels, Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, publicly announced that the European Commission will propose to the EU Council and the European Parliament that 2018 will be the European Year of Cultural Heritage, following an exchange of letters between President Jean-Claude Juncker and President Martin Schultz (click here for the address made by Commissioner Navracsics).

This announcement was followed by a powerful and engaged speech by Silvia Costa, MEP, who is the Chair of the Committee on Culture and Education of the European Parliament. Silvia Costa has been one of the main supporters of the proposed Year within the European Parliament and is in close dialogue with all stakeholders concerned. “Culture and cultural heritage should be the new soul and new identity for a new Europe,” concluded Silvia Costa. In the afternoon, the Italian Minister of Culture, Dario Franceschini, also expressed the full support of his government to the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018.

Europa Nostra’s Vice-President Piet Jaspaert and Secretary General Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović have had the great pleasure to attend the European Cultural Forum and to witness this important public announcement. Representatives from other European Networks working in the wider field of heritage, who are members of our European Heritage Alliance 3.3, also participated in the Forum.

“Together we have had the opportunity to congratulate in person Commissioner Navracsics and MEP Silvia Costa immediately after their speeches on their decisive leadership and commitment to rallying the support of the European Commission and European Parliament for the proposed European Year of Cultural Heritage. We also assured these high-level representatives from the EU Institutions that the civil society networks and organisations active in the field of heritage stand ready to contribute to the implementation of the European Year of Cultural Heritage in 2018 with creativity and energy. During the plenary session of the European Heritage Alliance 3.3., held on the eve of the European Culture Forum (18 April – World Heritage Day!), at the Europa Nostra’s Brussels Office, we had a preliminary discussion on the main messages we hope to convey, the tools we intend to use, as well as the outcomes which we aim to achieve during the Year,” stated Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović in a special message sent today to the wide network of Europa Nostra.

Europa Nostra and its President, Maestro Plácido Domingo, applaud this important development at this high level of the European Union, which is a remarkable achievement for us all, but also an immense responsibility. “We look forward to celebrating the future European Year of Cultural Heritage, together with Commissioner Navracsics, with many members and partners, and together with proud laureates of our European Heritage Awards run in partnership with the European Commission, on the occasion of our forthcoming European Heritage Congress which will be held in Madrid on 22-27 May. We therefore hope that you will join us in Madrid in big numbers where we will have the opportunity to continue our discussion on the ways in which we can ensure that the European Year of Cultural Heritage will serve as a platform for connecting and amplifying many excellent heritage initiatives – local, regional, national and European – which have already been developed across Europe,” affirmed the President of Europa Nostra.

At a time when the European Union is confronted with a wide range of political, economic and social challenges, and at a time when the entire European project is threatened by alarming forms of extremism and Euroscepticism, the decision to declare 2018 as the European Year of Cultural Heritage has a very special meaning and significance, both for the European Union Institutions and Member States and for Europe’s communities and citizens.

“Therefore we now wish to reach out to each and every member of our wide European family, to listen carefully to your views, concerns, dreams and ideas, and to invite you to get actively engaged in the exciting process ahead of us. Let us have a regular and creative dialogue in the months to come which we shall gladly bring to the due attention of policy and decision makers in Europe and incorporate as much as possible in Europa Nostra’s 3-year strategic and action plan for 2017-2019 with the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 at its heart”, emphasised the Secretary General of Europa Nostra.

Just adopted: EC Communication “Towards an integrated approach to cultural heritage for Europe”

Less than two months after the adoption of the far-reaching EU Council Conclusions on cultural heritage as a strategic resource for a sustainable Europe, the European Commission has adopted today its Communication which paves the way for an integrated approach to cultural heritage in Europe. This important policy document aims to help Member States and stakeholders to make the most of the significant support for heritage available under EU instruments and also calls for stronger cooperation at EU level to share ideas and best practices, which can feed into national heritage policies and governance. It highlights the opportunities for Member States and stakeholders to work more closely across borders to address the many challenges facing the heritage sector, and also to ensure that cultural heritage makes an even stronger contribution to a sustainable Europe.

The European Commission has also released today an accompanying “Mapping Report”which provides a comprehensive overview of EU policies, legislation, programmes and funding opportunities relevant to cultural heritage.

“Europa Nostra congratulates, also on behalf of other members of the European Heritage Alliance 3.3, Mrs Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, and the DG Education and Culture, for this new major step forward in developing a comprehensive EU strategy for the protection and enhancement of Europe’s shared cultural heritage”, stated Plácido Domingo, President of Europa Nostra.

Civil society organisations, such as Europa Nostra and other members of the European Heritage Alliance 3.3., were asked to contribute to the consultation process with stakeholders which was carried out by the European Commission prior to the preparation and adoption of this new Communication. “We very much hope that this open and constructive dialogue will pursue also during the implementation of this Communication which, in the next 5 years, will serve as the basis for strengthening the mainstreaming of cultural heritage concerns into all relevant EU policies and funding mechanisms”, added Plácido Domingo, President of Europa Nostra.

The EC Communication stresses that Europe’s cultural heritage is an asset and a responsibility for all. There can be no contradiction between national responsibilities and EU action since our heritage is always both local and European. The Communication also examines what the European Union can do, alongside the EU Member States and other public and private stakeholders, to enhance the intrinsic value of our cultural heritage. It also recognises that our cultural heritage is a key source of social innovation for smart, sustainable and inclusive development and a catalyst for creativity and growth. The European Commission recognises the role of heritage in many different EU policies, such as regional development or the EU external relations. It also welcomes the approach set by the EU’s Environment Impact Assessment Directive, which requires a project’s impact on cultural heritage to be considered, and the General Block Exemption Regulation which allows state aid for the sector.