Europa Nostra addresses EU Ministers in charge of culture at the EYCS Council meeting in Brussels

Europa Nostra’s Secretary General Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailovic has addressed the Education, Youth, Culture and Sports (EYCS) Council of the European Union – composed of EU Ministers in charge of Culture -, as a special guest during its physical meeting held in Brussels on 30 November. Upon invitation by the Slovenian Minister of Culture Vasko Simoniti, acting Chair of the Council of Ministers, who participated in person in the European Cultural Heritage Summit 2021 in Venice, our Secretary General contributed to the Policy Debate “Cultural heritage and heritage rights in the context of sustainable development and the future of Europe” held during the culture session of the EYCS meeting. In her address, she presented the key messages of the Venice Call to Action: “For a New European Renaissance” as well as Europa Nostra’s vision for a heritage-led renaissance of Europe.

Also on behalf of the European Heritage Alliance, which Europa Nostra coordinates, and the Climate Heritage Network, of which Europa Nostra has been recently appointed Regional Co-Chair for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailovic addressed the 26 represented Member States and the European Commission.

Today, Europe and the world are facing so many challenges and emergencies: from the pandemic to climate change; from the economic and social crisis to serious threats to our democracy and demography. This is the time when we must recall that the European Union is, first and foremost, a Union of shared values, and a Union based on a rich cultural and humanistic inheritance, as defined in the preamble and articles 2 and 3 of the Treaty. Cultural rights, including heritage rights, form part of these shared values. They are also closely interconnected with all other human rights, political, environmental, social and economic. Together we must protect and promote these rights, since they are facing many threats and cannot be taken for granted,” she said.

During her address, Europa Nostra’s Secretary General also recalled the key messages of the Venice Call to Action: ‘For a New European Renaissance”, issued by Europa Nostra as the main outcome of the European Cultural Heritage Summit 2021 held from 21 to 24 September in Venice. Prior to the meeting, each one of the EU Ministers in charge of culture had received individually the text of the Venice Call to Action with an accompanied letter.

In particular, Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailovic elaborate on three key messages included in the Venice Call to Action: 1) the role of cultural heritage to strengthen a sense of belonging and togetherness in Europe; 2) cultural heritage as a vector to fulfil all strategic priorities of the European Union; and 3) the key role of cultural heritage in the Conference of the Future of Europe.

Cultural heritage is so much more than a sector, it is a vector to achieve a more humane, sustainable, inclusive and more beautiful Europe. This is why we must recognise and unleash the power of culture and heritage to fulfil all strategic priorities of the European Union,” she stated.

Europa Nostra’s Secretary General concluded her address with a powerful plea: “Three years after the historic European Year of Cultural Heritage, let us lift up the game and let us seize the golden opportunity provided by the Conference on the Future of Europe to place our shared cultural heritage where it belongs – at the very heart of the entire European project, as the powerful catalyst for a New European Renaissance.

After the address of Europa Nostra’s Secretary General, each one of the 26 represented Member States and the European Commission, represented by Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, took the floor to express their views. Mariya Gabriel expressly thanked the Secretary General of Europa Nostra for her strong statement and plea, and for her commitment and energy to place cultural heritage at the heart of Europe. Many Member States’ Ministers and representatives also echoed the speech made by Europa Nostra’s Secretary General.

After the initial “tour de table”, Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailovic was again given the floor to react. Europa Nostra’s Secretary General expressed her appreciation for the commitment and recognition of the multiple values of cultural heritage shown by all EU Ministers. She also praised the role played by the outgoing Slovenian Presidency in placing cultural heritage higher up on the agenda of the EU Council, and encouraged the upcoming French and Czech Presidencies to follow their positive example. Finally, she reaffirmed the readiness of Europa Nostra and its wide network to support the work of the Council of the European Union, the European Commission and other EU institutions to unleash the huge potential of cultural heritage for the future of Europe, among others by holding its next European Cultural Heritage Summit on 25-27 September in Prague, in the framework of the Czech Presidency of the European Union.

We are convinced that, through this important contribution, Europa Nostra will continue reinforcing and expanding its fruitful relations with decision-makers at the highest level, both within EU institutions and nationally.

More information
Watch the Policy Debate / Public session of the EYCS meeting
Watch the Press Conference after the EYCS meeting

Among the other topics addressed during the culture session of the EYCS meeting were the New European Bauhaus. On this occasion, the Council adopted Conclusions on culture, high-quality architecture and built environment as key elements of the New European Bauhaus initiative.

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