European Commission proposes an ambitious New European Agenda for Culture with a strong heritage dimension

On 22 May, the European Commission presented a series of new initiatives in the fields of education and culture, including a proposal for ‘A New European Agenda for Culture’ (full text). This Agenda outlines how the European Commission will support EU Member States in tapping into culture’s potential to foster innovation, economic growth and jobs as well as fostering ties between communities and strengthening Europe’s external relations. Most importantly, the New Agenda outlines how to build on the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 and sustain its legacy. Europa Nostra welcomes the proposal which places a particularly important emphasis on cultural heritage as one of the two horizontal dimensions of the entire EU Agenda for Culture:

“We applaud this ambitious European document which gives strategic guidance for the coming years. Europa Nostra has been calling for such a strategic and holistic approach to culture and cultural heritage at EU level for several years. We especially welcome the recognition of cultural heritage as a transversal theme and resource for the implementation of the entire New European Agenda for Culture. We are delighted that the European Commission has announced the future EU Action Plan for Cultural Heritage as a lasting legacy of the European Year of Cultural Heritage. We look forward to contributing to the drafting of this Action Plan during and after the European Cultural Heritage Summit 2018, which will take place in June in Berlin,” said Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, Secretary General of Europa Nostra.

The New European Agenda for Culture has three strategic objectives:

  1. Social dimension: harnessing the power of culture and cultural diversity for social cohesion and well-being;
  2. Economic dimension: supporting culture-based creativity in education and innovation, and for jobs and growth; and
  3. External dimension: strengthening international cultural relations.

Cultural heritage is a cross-cutting element in reaching these three objectives: namely the protection and promotion of “Europe’s cultural heritage as a shared resource, raising awareness of our common history and values and reinforcing a sense of common European identity”, but also the important need to “promote the skills needed by cultural and creative sectors, including digital, entrepreneurial, traditional and specialised skills”. Moreover, the proposal foresees that the European Commission will present an Action Plan for Cultural Heritage towards the end of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 and asks Member States to draw up similar plans and follow up on the 10 European initiatives (see staff working document, page 21).

While the proposal also acknowledges the importance of civil society, its role and active involvement in shaping and implementing the Agenda should be further strengthened according to the Secretary General of Europa Nostra.

“Civil society organisations with their many volunteers make a vital contribution to enhancing and protecting our shared cultural heritage. They should have a strong voice and representation at European level. The EU Institutions should fully involve and engage civil society as an indispensable partner in shaping and implementing the new European Agenda for Culture. We need to ensure that we draw on the knowledge, expertise and creativity of civil society organisations – only then can we tap into the full potential of culture and cultural heritage for our economy and our societies”, stated Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović.

The Secretary General of Europa Nostra strongly welcomed the global dimension of the new Agenda, which aims to support culture as a driver of sustainable development, to promote culture and intercultural dialogue and to reinforce cooperation in the field of cultural heritage.

The proposed new European Agenda for Culture will be provide a most welcome policy framework for the European Policy Debate “Sharing Heritage – Sharing Values”, which will take place on 22 June in Berlin as one of the highlights of the European Cultural Heritage Summit.

Background

Prior to the adoption of the proposal by the European Commission, Europa Nostra had actively contributed to the consultation phase for the New European Agenda for Culture. Together with other members of the European Heritage Alliance 3.3, Europa Nostra participated in the first consultation meeting held in February 2018. Europa Nostra also submitted its written input for the future agenda via an EU online survey.

References:

European Commission Communication ‘A New European Agenda for Culture’ (22 May 2018)
Factsheet on culture
European Commission press release ‘ Building a stronger Europe…’ (22 May 2018)
Related memo (FAQ outlining the proposed initiatives)
Overview of the related initiatives in the fields of education and youth

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