Conference in Vilnius focus on benefits of cultural heritage for other EU policies

The conference ‘Cultural Heritage and the EU 2020 Strategy: towards an integrated approach’, organised by the Department of Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania, was held in Vilnius, on 13-14 November. Professionals and policy-makers of different sectors from all over Europe, including representatives of the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, governmental institutions and civil organisations, scientists and academics discussed and exploited a range of possibilities for cultural heritage to be a resource for other policy fields. Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, Secretary General of Europa Nostra, also in representation of the European Heritage Alliance 3.3, spoke on behalf of the civil society during the opening session of the conference.

The conference was organised within the framework of the Lithuanian Presidency of the EU Council. Photo: The European Union

The conference was organised within the framework of the Lithuanian Presidency of the EU Council. Photo: The European Union

“Europa Nostra and the European Heritage Alliance 3.3 are very keen to contribute to this conference. We fully share the conviction that cultural heritage has a key role to play in the EU-2020 Growth Strategy for the coming decade and that an integrated approach to the safeguard of our common heritage within the implementation of various EU policies is of crucial importance. Only in this way can we deploy the full potential of heritage as a key resource of Europe. And only through an ever closer dialogue and cooperation between public authorities and civil society active in the heritage field,” advocated Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović.

Speaking about the “Momentum for Cultural Heritage at EU level”, the Secretary General of Europa Nostra referred to the ‘Agenda for Culture in the Globalised World’, adopted by the European Commission in 2007, and to the Lisbon Treaty of the European Union, signed in the same year. She praised the Belgian Presidency of the EU and the major european conference held in 2010. At governmental level, “the spirit of Bruges” led to the creation of the Reflection Group ‘Heritage and the EU’. At non-governmental level, it led to the launch of the European Heritage Alliance 3.3.

“Three years after Bruges, here we are in Vilnius, under the leadership of the Lithuanian Presidency of the EU and with the active participation of the two countries which will be holding the Presidency of the EU in 2014, Greece and Italy. And with the ambition to adopt in 2014 the Council Conclusions on cultural heritage in a strategic perspective, providing a long-term mandate to the EU Council of Ministers to work on cultural heritage issues”, stated Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović.

The Secretary General of Europa Nostra highlighted some of challenges which need to be met. “The EU must focus – in a much more systematic and comprehensive way – on mainstreaming cultural heritage in all relevant EU policies (e.g. environment, regional development, agricultural and rural policy, energy policy, tourism, research, education, and also external relations). Such action by the Union should also be based on the synergies to be developed with UNESCO and the Council of Europe. This conference seeks precisely to encourage all EU Institutions to move ahead in this direction. And we must of course ensure the best possible cooperation between the EU and the Council of Europe, due to the immense “acquis” of work in the field of cultural heritage”.

The opening session was followed by three thematic seminars, during which several good practices demonstrated the added value of cultural heritage for the agricultural, environmental and cohesion policy.

After a more general plenary session focusing on the interaction between cultural heritage and other policy areas such as tourism and education, the Lithuanian presidency concluded the conference with a final statement and specific recommendations on how to put the mainstreaming principle into action.

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