Culture is a priority for the new President of European Economic and Social Committee

“Dare to dream the Europe of tomorrow!” is Luca Jahier’s new interpretation of the Kantian sapere aude. After his election as the new President of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) – the advisory body representing organised civil society in the EU -, Italy’s long-standing member of the EESC gave an inspiring inauguration speech in Brussels on 18 April, where he outlined his firm commitment to reviving the European project through a second European Renaissance, a ‘rEUnaissance’.

For his 2,5-year mandate, President Jahier set out the four priorities that will guide his political work: sustainable development, promotion of peace, strengthening the role of culture and giving a voice to Europe’s young people. As a way of demonstrating how high culture is on his political agenda, President Jahier had invited Europa Nostra’ Secretary General Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović – not only as one of his guests but as the first speaker to take the floor – who was representing civil society and the cultural field, rather than an institution.

Congratulating President Jahier on his election, Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, enthusiastically applauded Luca Jahier for putting culture at the heart of his mandate and confirmed Europa Nostra’s readiness to provide input together with many stakeholders from the cultural and the heritage field. Emphasising why culture should be higher on the political agenda, she stressed that “culture is a fundamental resource that positively influences and inspires the daily lives of all citizens in Europe” and above all “a driver of sustainable development”.

Incidentally, the inauguration coincided with the International Day for Monuments and Sites, which is celebrated every year on 18 April since 1983. It was not only the perfect timing for Europa Nostra’s intervention but also perfectly matched the priorities of the new EESC President, as this year’s motto was ‘Heritage for Generations’.

Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović also took the opportunity to ring the alarm bell for endangered heritage, pointing out that heritage remains at risk of destruction above all in conflict zones but also right in front of our doorstep due to unsuitable development.

With the European Economic and Social Committee playing a fundamental role as bridge between the organised civil society in Europe and the EU institutions, Europa Nostra’s Secretary General expressed her conviction of a joint and fruitful collaboration over the coming months and years, especially during the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018. By way of thanks, she presented a copy of the Cartaditalia special edition on the European Year to President Jahier.

The European Economic and Social Committee also celebrates its 60th anniversary with a special plenary session in May 2018. Its President Luca Jahier will be one of the speakers at the European Policy Debate ‘Sharing Heritage – Sharing Values’ on 22 June, which is one of the highlights of the European Cultural Heritage Summit 2018.

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