Brussels: Europa Nostra stresses role of heritage for EU cultural diplomacy at European Parliament debate

Europa Nostra participated as one of the invited stakeholders in a Committee debate on cultural diplomacy at the European Parliament in Brussels on 22 March 2017. The European Parliament’s Co-Rapporteurs Silvia Costa MEP and MEP Elmar Brok had recently published their draft report “Towards an EU Strategy for international cultural relations” and had now invited key cultural stakeholders to discuss the draft report with members of two EP Committees: Culture Committee and Foreign Affairs Committee. The draft report responds to the proposal for an EU strategy in the field of international cultural relations that was launched in June 2016 (read summary here). One of the three pillars of the proposed strategy is “reinforcing cooperation on cultural heritage”.

Speaking as one of the invited experts, Europa Nostra’s Secretary General Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović highlighted the importance of using all existing instruments for the benefits of the proposed cultural diplomacy strategy. For example, strong arguments for the positive impact of cultural heritage on economy, society, culture and the environment, are provided by the report ’Cultural Heritage Counts for Europe‘; these arguments are just as valid for the EU’s external relations. Europa Nostra’s Secretary General emphasised that the EU should also be leading by promoting excellence and best practices, rather than just providing funds. She added that the 400+ laureates of the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards since 2002 provides a valuable source of best practices with regard to heritage.  “We also want to see the European Union as a forceful advocate for sustainable and integrated approaches to cultural heritage”, stressed our Secretary General, adding that cultural heritage could also help achieving the objectives of the other two work streams of the strategy. Finally, Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović called on policy-makers to link the proposed cultural diplomacy strategy with the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018, thus adding a most welcome external component to the entire Year.

Besides Europa Nostra’s Secretary General, the invited experts were Ambassador Nicolas Bideau, Head of “Présence Suisse”, Susanne Höhn, Director of Goethe-Institut Brussels, and Stefan Gies, Director at the Association Européenne des Conservatoires, Académies de Musique et Musikhochschulen. The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) and the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) also drafted opinions on the proposed strategy and their respective Rapporteurs also voiced the viewpoints of their institutions in committee: Apostolos Tzitzikostas, whose opinion had been adopted by the CoR in February 2017, called on the Commission to involve the regional and local authorities in developing and implementing the strategy. Luca Jahier, who was currently drafting the opinion for the EESC (adoption foreseen for May 2017), in turn, emphasised the need to involve civil society in the strategy and more generally called for the adoption of a clear strategy with a concrete action plan. Members of the European Parliament will vote on amendments to the draft report by the end of May 2017 before the report will be adopted in plenary in July 2017.


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