European Year of Cultural Heritage needs adequate Funding

European Year of Cultural Heritage needs adequate Funding

Brussels, 20 December 2016 – The European Heritage Alliance 3.3 is calling on 28 EU Heads of State or Government to ensure that the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 is supported with adequate financial resources at all levels of governance: from European to national, regional and local.

As part of a joint advocacy campaign, 37 heritage-related European and international networks which form part of the European Heritage Alliance 3.3 (Alliance), have signed and sent today a joint letter to the leaders of EU Member States with a forceful message: “Given the huge value of cultural heritage and its proven positive impact on Europe’s economy – creating jobs and growth, as well as on Europe’s society, culture and environment, it is fully justified to allocate a significant budget to the implementation of this historic European initiative.”

Members of the Alliance added that “At a time when EU Member States and Institutions are confronted with an unprecedented political, economic, social, environmental and cultural crisis, (…) the European Year of Cultural Heritage provides us all with a unique opportunity to convey a positive and cohesive message to Europe’s citizens”.

They stressed that “Promoting the understanding and enjoyment of our shared heritage and history and sharing this heritage with other cultures of the world have significant added value. Not only can we boost the much-needed awareness and sense of belonging to a wider community within and across Europe but we can also make use of heritage as a catalyst to build bridges and foster dialogue between cultures across the globe.”

The European Heritage Alliance also referred to the events which will take place on 25 March 2017 in Rome when EU Heads of State or Government will meet to mark the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome. “We call on you all to seize the opportunity of this historic gathering to publicly recognise that the entire European project has a wider cultural meaning and significance derived from our shared cultural patrimony, both tangible and intangible” the letter advocates. It also adds that “We should preserve and celebrate our rich heritage as much as we should understand and promote the shared cultural values that are interwoven in this heritage and define who we are as a wider community of Europeans”.

Members of the European Heritage Alliance 3.3 confirmed their readiness to cooperate closely with EU Institutions and Member States “with the aim of giving our cultural resources and related capital a much stronger recognition and a much more central place within the future agendas of the European Union”. To start with, each member of the Alliance will mobilise their respective our members and partners across Europe to contribute to the success of the European Year of Cultural Heritage “in a creative and dynamic way”.

The EC proposal for the European Year of Cultural Heritage was published on 30 August 2016 and the EU Council of Ministers adopted its general approach on this proposal at the last meeting of the Council on 22 November 2016. Following the current procedure of “trialogue” between the Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission, the final decision on the Year with the probable allocation of a dedicated EU budget is expected to be adopted during the Maltese Presidency of the EU, during the first trimester of the Year.

For the letters to 28 EU Heads of State or Government, see below:

PDF Icon Austria                             PDF Icon Italy

PDF Icon Belgium                            PDF Icon Latvia

PDF Icon Bulgaria                            PDF Icon Luxembourg

PDF Icon Croatia                              PDF Icon Lithuania

PDF Icon Cyprus                               PDF Icon Malta

PDF Icon Czech Republic                PDF Icon The Netherlands

PDF Icon Denmark                           PDF Icon Poland

PDF Icon Ireland                               PDF Icon Portugal

PDF Icon Estonia                              PDF Icon Romania

PDF Icon Finland                              PDF Icon Slovakia

PDF Icon France                               PDF Icon Slovenia

PDF Icon Germany                           PDF Icon Spain

PDF Icon Greece                               PDF Icon Sweden

PDF Icon Hungary                             PDF Icon United Kingdom

Plácido Domingo: destruction of Cultural Heritage is a Human Rights Issue

Plácido Domingo: destruction of Cultural Heritage is a Human Rights Issue

Maestro Plácido Domingo, as President of Europa Nostra and Goodwill Ambassador of UNESCO, contributed via a video message to the event Time To End Intentional Destruction of Cultural Heritage: A Human Rights Call to Action held on 27 October at the UN Headquarters. The discussion centred upon the report presented by the UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Ms Karima Bennoune.

Plácido Domingo applauded this report that constitutes a vigorous human rights call to action to end intentional destruction of cultural heritage. He also saluted all heritage heroes and defenders taking part in the critical discussion.

In his passionate message he urged the world leaders and citizens alike to work stronger and closer together. He stressed that “It is our human right to protect and preserve cultural heritage, to access it and enjoy it; and to transmit it to our children and grandchildren. Today these rights cannot be taken for granted and require our collective, vigorous defence. This is a duty for humankind as a whole and for each and everybody of us! Referring to intentional destruction of cultural heritage, the President of Europa Nostra stressed:

“when cultural heritage is attacked, damaged or destroyed anywhere in the world, it is our heritage – yours and mine – that is attacked, damaged and destroyed.”

“These destructions undermine our human right to know our own history and the histories of our neighbours. These destructions seek to erase the record of human genius and human creation and by doing so, to erase our collective memory as human beings. These deplorable acts therefore must be firmly condemned and eventually stopped, as advocated in the Report of the UN Special envoy for Cultural Rights.”

Ms Karima Bennoune, UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, expressed every appreciation for Europa Nostra’s support to her report and her appeal to the international community. She thanked especially Europa Nostra President, Plácido Domingo, for his forceful and inspiring message which will be posted on the website of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights based in Geneva, and will be widely shared. In this way, Plácido Domingo’s message will become a most welcome tool for further campaigning for the safeguarding of cultural heritage as part of the UN action for protection of human rights with special emphasis on the relevance of cultural rights.

Watch the Video Message

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.

European Historic Houses Association Congress and General Assembly Brussels and Eastern Flanders

European Historic Houses Association Congress and General Assembly Brussels and Eastern Flanders

From the 1st to the 4th of October, the European Historic Houses Association organised its annual General Assembly in Brussels and the province of Eastern-Flanders. The four-day event, that was hosted with the support of the Association Royale des Demeures Historiques et Jardins de Belgique, included  a successful conference entitled “Europe’s Private Heritage at Risk”, visits to historic houses in the area around Ghent and a prestigious gala dinner attended by, among others, S.A.R. the Prince Lorenz of Belgium.

Every year, the European Historic Houses Association organizes a General Assembly for its governors, the representatives of its member associations and observers from across Europe. This year, this event took place between the 1st and the 4th of October. These four days provided a perfect opportunity for the association to discuss its accomplishments of the past year, as well as to agree on the priorities and challenges for the years to come. At the same time, it was an occasion to share best practices and innovative projects for the preservation of Europe’s fragile historic houses.

One priority that came up repeatedly in both the formal meetings and the visits to historic houses in Eastern Flanders was the issue of financing. Our members are often, and rightly so, proud to manage historic buildings and art collections. However, with this privilege come enormous responsibilities. For example, with regards to the high standards that exist for renovating historic houses. Attaining these standards can be a significant financial burden and the impressive work owners of historic houses do, often with very limited funds deserves to be recognized and supported by the relevant authorities.

The European Historic Houses Association strongly believes that authorities should sustain this hard work by owners by providing fiscal incentives. The potential such measures have was not only clear from the discussions between our members, it was also apparent during the visits to the castles of Beerlegem, Nokere, Huysse, Ooidonk and Leeuwergem. The passionate stories of the castle owners during these visits shed light on the enormous cost associated with, but also on the necessity of, preserving and renovating fragile Historic Heritage.

The recommendations of the European Parliament in its recent resolution ‘Towards an Integrated Approach to Cultural Heritage in Europe’ to apply lower VAT rates and exchange best practices on fiscal policies for the restoration, preservation and conservation of cultural heritage, were therefore very encouraging. These suggestions from the Parliament will be central to the actions of the European Historic Houses Association and its members on both the European and the national level in the years to come.

The need to sustain Europe’s cultural heritage was also apparent in the conference “Europe’s Private Heritage at Risk” on the 2nd of October. In the opening speech to this forum, Mr. Nymand-Christensen, the Deputy Director of the DG Education and Culture of the European Commission, emphasised that good cooperation between public authorities and owners is vital to the sustainability of cultural goods. Building on this, the panellists, including politicians, owners of historic houses, representatives of civil society and police officers, discussed on the topics of “Best ways to sustain our cultural heritage” and “Best ways to protect our cultural goods”.

One area in which they clearly identified a need for increased collaboration is the issue of the illicit trafficking of cultural goods. Stolen goods can cross borders easily, and it is important that law enforcement units work with owners to be able to quickly trace these objects. Françoise Bortolotti, an officer on Interpol’s art unit, stressed that stolen works of art can only be identified and repatriated if the owners provide pictures and date adhering to the standardized criteria of Object ID.

Next year, the programme of the General Assembly will be split in two, with the traditional visits and gala dinner being hosted by the Österreichischer Burgenverein in Austria in May, and the General Assembly itself as well as the annual European Historic Houses Conference taking place in October in Brussels. Preparations for these events have already started and the team of the European Historic Houses Association looks forward to once again hosting its members for enriching visits and discussions.

Fons Wilmes

The full programme of the event is available on our website.

European Parliament Resolution, “Towards an integrated approach to cultural heritage in Europe”, 8 September 2015, 2014/2149(INI).

The requirements of Object ID can be consulted online here.

E-FAITH Now Building a Database on Historic Harbour Cranes in Europe

E-FAITH Now Building a Database on Historic Harbour Cranes in Europe

The E-FAITH steering group on historic cranes is now building a web-database on historic harbour cranes in Europe. This database will include general information and documentation about cranes, and, most importantly, a list of cranes used at maritime as well as inland harbours, and on canals and river banks.

Information on the Cranes steering group can be found here.
The first tests of the cranes database are now online here.

Are you aware of existing cranes in one of the member states of the Council of Europe? Please send them photos and details. Guidelines and a questionnaire which you can use can be downloaded here.

Don’t hesitate to send them some photographs and information about the location of the cranes – even submissions that are not complete have their value, as they will put them on the agenda.

Many thanks for your collaboration

Photo: Chatham Dockyard Historic Crane captured by pyntofmyld

2015 Heritage Counts International Conference Publication Offer

An international conference on the economic, social, environmental and cultural impact of built cultural heritage was organised on 3-5 February 2015 by the Raymond Lemaire International Centre for Conservation (KU Leuven) in Leuven, Belgium.

The Heritage Counts conference was a very successful 2nd edition of the yearly Thematic Week, thanks to the enthusiastic discussions among international and interdisciplinary participants as well as the link with the Cultural Heritage Counts for Europe project, funded by the EU Culture Programme (2007-2013) and the support of Europa Nostra, the lead partner of a consortium of 6 organisations.
Taking into account the many fruitful discussions and positive messages on the relevance of this topic, a rigorous publication that encompasses the conference’s content and quality was developed. After an extensive editing process, the “Heritage Counts” publication with Guaranteed Peer Reviewed Content (GPRC) is in print at this very moment!

Koen Van Balen and Aziliz Vandesande (Eds.), “Heritage Counts”,Reflections on Cultural Heritage Theories and Practices. A series by the Raymond Lemaire International Centre for Conservation, KU Leuven, vol. 2, Garant: Antwerp – Apeldoorn, 2015.

ISBN 978-90-441-3330-1 | 320 pp.
Full color, illustrated | 20×25 cm

The publishing company offers a discount pre-subscription offer until 15th December 2015!
€ 39 | VAT & shipment included
As from 15th December € 49 | VAT included, shipment € 5

Please find the complete table of content here and the pre-subscription form here

Standing up for cultural heritage

Standing up for cultural heritage

The European Parliament adopted by a large majority its Resolution ‘Towards an integrated approach to cultural heritage for Europe’ emphasising the importance of implementing an integrated approach towards cultural heritage and of ensuring sufficient European funding for this sector. The Resolution also refers to new governance models, the economic and strategic potential of cultural heritage as well as opportunities and challenges.

To read the text in any official EU language, click here.

Photo: Plenary Session week 38 2015 in Brussels: Resumption of session and order of business captured by © European Union 2015 – Source : EP

Fresh off the press: The Cultural Heritage Counts for Europe Report is now available online

Fresh off the press: The Cultural Heritage Counts for Europe Report is now available online

The partners of the EU-funded project ‘Cultural Heritage Counts for Europe’ (CHCFE) have published on 12 June the main findings and strategic recommendations for tapping into heritage’s full potential by providing compelling evidence of the value of cultural heritage and its impact on Europe’s economy, culture, society and the environment.

The CHCFE project provides a response to the position paper Towards an EU Strategy for Cultural Heritage – The Case for Research presented by the European Heritage Alliance 3.3 to the European Commission in 2012.

The Full Report and Executive Summary are available here.

Photo: CHCfE Group Photo