Commissioner Vassiliou and Plácido Domingo open exhibition on the Awards in the presence of President Barroso

Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, and Plácido Domingo, President of Europa Nostra, opened the photo exhibition ‘Europe: Our Past, our Future’ about the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards at the EC headquarters in Brussels on the afternoon of 5 December. José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, attended the vernissage and made an inspiring speech, praising the partnership between the European Commission and Europa Nostra and highlighting the role of civil society players in strengthening the cultural dimension of the European project.

Photo exhibition on the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra Awards
Europa Nostra and the European Commission have recognised some 360 remarkable heritage achievements since 2002. This photographic exhibition takes us on a fantastic journey across Europe, from Norway to Turkey, displaying 33 inspiring examples in conservation, research, dedicated service, and education, training and awareness-raising. The exhibition runs from 8 December to 5 January at the Berlaymont and from 7 to 31 January at the EU Information Point in Brussels.

“For the past decade or so, we have been privileged to count Europa Nostra among our partners, not least as organiser of the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards. This exhibition is proof of this partnership and a tribute to our shared commitment to safeguarding European heritage. This year, Europa Nostra celebrates fifty years of activity – fifty years tirelessly devoted to the preservation and promotion of Europe’s cultural heritage. What better way to celebrate this than by bringing more cultural heritage to the Berlaymont, where the heart of the European Commission beats in Brussels,” stated Androulla Vassiliou.

Plácido Domingo thanked Commissioner Vassiliou for hosting “this exhibition that celebrates our fruitful partnership”, for being “a true ally and friend of Europa Nostra” and, most importantly, for working “with lots of conviction to make cultural heritage a real priority for the EU”.

The President of Europa Nostra also congratulated the Commissioner on the recent adoption of the ‘Creative Europe’ programme. “Not only have you managed to win support for an ambitious programme that highlights the importance of Europe’s soft power which is embedded in Europe’s cultural and creative sectors and industries, you have also managed to gain an increase in your budget, which in the current times is a real achievement!,” he stated.

“We feel encouraged by the inclusion of cultural heritage concerns in other important programmes of the European Union, in particular the future structural funds and the programme for research and innovation ‘Horizon 2020’. Europa Nostra very strongly supports the current momentum for developing a more ambitious EU strategy for cultural heritage which is fully integrated in all relevant EU policies,” stressed Plácido Domingo.

The President of the European Commission praised the partnership with Europa Nostra and pointed out that the cultural and creative sectors will benefit from increased support under the new EC ‘Creative Europe’ programme. “In the current situation, a budget increase of 9% is a major accomplishment. We have a good basis to launch and support initiatives like yours, Europa Nostra, and to mobilise other civil society players – from businesses to NGOs and citizens in general – to give a stronger cultural dimension to the European project”.

President Barroso also spoke about the ‘New Narrative for Europe’. “This initiative invites European citizens, in particular artists, intellectuals and scientists, to engage with and contribute to the collective process of writing a new chapter of our European ‘story’. It also seeks to place culture (arts, heritage and sciences) more prominently within the wider debate on the future of Europe,” stated Barroso.

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