Budapest: Europa Nostra meets high-level representative from the Hungarian Presidency of the EU Council

On 28 June, in Budapest, Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, Secretary General of Europa Nostra, had an excellent exchange on the priorities of the Hungarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union with Balázs Péter Molnár, Deputy State Secretary for EU Policies at the Ministry of EU Affairs. Europa Nostra applauds the emphasis on the key role of cultural heritage for the EU, both internally and externally, and commends the readiness of the Hungarian Presidency to foster a stronger dialogue with Europe’s civil society committed to cultural heritage.

This meeting was organised following the extensive presentation of Europa Nostra’s mission and action, including the European Heritage Hub pilot project, which Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović made on 26 May at the informal “Friends of Cultural Heritage” Group, which brings together representatives of Member States’ Permanent Representations to the EU and which is coordinated by the PR of Hungary to the EU.

The Hungarian Presidency, during which Hungary will chair meetings and drive the agenda in the Council of the European Union that represents EU national governments, will last from 1 July to 31 December 2024.

Among the topics discussed were cultural heritage protection and its securitisation in case of conflict. The Hungarian Presidency plans to promote the implementation of the Council Conclusions on cultural heritage in conflicts and crises, first adopted in 2021, and advocate the need for their review.

The Conclusions stress the importance of strengthening regional and international partnerships for cultural heritage protection, and call for the mainstreaming of this work into the Common Foreign and Security Policy. The Hungarian Presidency supports the inclusion of cultural heritage as a conflict sensitive approach and as a basis for sustainable recovery and lasting peace.

In line with the EU Work Plan for Culture 2023-2026, the Presidency also intends to promote digital access to cultural heritage and strengthen the resilience of cultural heritage against climate change as well as natural and human-made disasters.

Furthermore, during its term, the Hungarian Presidency will focus on the New European Bauhaus initiative developed by the European Commission, and specifically the restoration and renovation of built heritage, with a view to underline the importance of sustainable development within architectural policy.

Key to the Presidency’s commitment towards cultural heritage is a dedicated conference on Cultural Heritage Protection in EU’s external relations to take place on 9 September in Brussels. Europa Nostra Secretary-General, Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailovic, will feature as a keynote speaker who will convey the view of Europe’s civil society committed to cultural heritage.

During this meaningful and fruitful exchange, the following additional topics were discussed: the need to promote access to culture, especially in rural areas to combat their depopulation and also the tap into the potential of culture and cultural heritage to foster a more effective cohesion policy of the EU; the need to promote culture-based climate action at the COP 29 meeting, which will take place in Baku from 11 to 22 November, during the semester when Hungary will be holding the rotating Presidency of the EU Council; the role of cultural heritage as a soft security instrument and as a vehicle for connectivity (tangible and intangible) in the framework of EU’s enlargement agenda, with the emphasis on the EU/Western Balkans Agenda, as well as in the framework of the European Political Community.

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