Europa Nostra contributes to stakeholder consultation on education and culture at European Committee of the Regions

Upon invitation from the European Committee of the Regions, Europa Nostra contributed to the stakeholder consultation on “Strengthening European Identity through Education and Culture” on 18 January in Brussels. Vice-President Piet Jaspaert presented Europa Nostra’s Council Statement on this topic, which was issued last November, and stressed the importance of teaching European cultural history in schools in Europe.

takeholder consultation on education and culture at European Committee of the Regions

The stakeholder consultation was convened in order to aid the European Committee of the Regions on drafting a response (“opinion”) to this issue. It will respond to the Communication “Strengthening European Identity through Education and Culture” that was put forward by the European Commission last November as a contribution to the discussion undertaken by European Union leaders during the Social Summit in Gothenburg. In its opinion, the European Committee of the Regions will provide the perspectives of local and regional authorities on this topic.

The consultation meeting provided an opportunity for stakeholders from the fields of education and culture to exchange views with the Committee’s Rapporteur, Tanya Hristova from Bulgaria (European People’s Party), who is also the Mayor of Gabrovo Municipality, and her relevant expert as well as an administrator from the secretariat of the Committee’s commission which deals with Social Policy, Education, Employment, Research and Culture. Besides Europa Nostra, ENCATC – also a member of the European Heritage Alliance 3.3 – and Culture Action Europe were among the cultural stakeholders present.

At the meeting, Europa Nostra’s Vice-President Piet Jaspaert conveyed the main elements of the Statement of Europa Nostra’s Council to the Rapporteur, which had been adopted in response to the European Commission Communication on the eve of the discussion of EU Leaders on this topic in November 2017. He reiterated Europa Nostra’s full support to the “key messages of this Statement, especially the ones which refer to Europe’s cultural heritage as a key vehicle for promoting European Identity and Unity based on common values and memories; for encouraging active citizenship, in particular among the youth, and for providing a positive force for a more cohesive and inclusive Europe as an antidote to divisive and dangerous forms of populism and nationalism.”

Moreover, Europa Nostra’s Vice-President made four concrete suggestions to the Rapporteur.

Firstly, to highlight the benefits of investing in cultural heritage, as documented in the report “Cultural Heritage Counts for Europe”. Here, Piet Jaspaert took the opportunity to briefly present the work of the European Heritage Alliance 3.3, which is coordinated by Europa Nostra and which initiated this project. Alliance member ENCATC also contributed to the consultation with a statement from its Vice-President Ana Gaio, who was accompanied by Secretary General GiannaLia Cogliandro Beyens.

Secondly, he encouraged the Rapporteur to stress the importance of teaching European cultural history in schools, referring to the recent keynote speech of Europa Nostra Vice-President Costa Carras at the seminar “How can Europe help the Balkans consume its history?”, which was organised by the European Heritage Alliance 3.3 member Euroclio at the House of European History in Brussels on 18 December.

Thirdly, Europa Nostra’s Vice-President suggested key findings of the Eurobarometer survey on the attitude of citizens towards cultural heritage in Europe should be drawn upon.

Last but not least, with regard to the ongoing policy discussions on the European Commission Communication, Piet Jaspaert called on the Rapporteur and EU policy makers to use the European Cultural Heritage Summit on 21-22 June 2018 in Berlin – which Europa Nostra will be co-hosting with the German Cultural Heritage Committee (DNK) and the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (SPK) as well as the European Union – to put strategic orientations into practice.

The Rapporteur will present the draft opinion in February and the European Committee of the Regions will adopt its opinion on this topic at its plenary session on 16-17 May in Brussels.

Background

On 25 January, the first ever European Education Summit took place in Brussels and has been announced by the European Commission as an occasion to follow up on the Leaders’ discussion at the Gothenburg Social Summit. Europa Nostra will attend the Education Summit. A representative from the Cultural Heritage Education Programme “Apprendisti Ciceroni®”, winner of a EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Award 2016, was among the speakers of this high-level event.

The main focus of the Communication “Strengthening European Identity through Education and Culture” of the European Commission is the creation of a European Education Area by 2025. However, it also outlined possible initiatives with a 2025 perspective for the cultural field, including an upgraded European Agenda for Culture and an EU Action Plan for Cultural Heritage (see Factsheet “Culture as a Driver for EU Unity”). Both initiatives are of interest to Europa Nostra. In fact, Europa Nostra will contribute to the reshaping of the European Agenda for Culture over the coming months and will also continue lobbying for an ambitious EU Action Plan for Cultural Heritage.

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