Europa Nostra delegation held productive meeting with EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel

At the very start of 2021, Europa Nostra convened a series of virtual meetings with high-level EU leaders to take stock of the latest policy developments and key priorities of the European Union. On 12 February, a delegation of Europa Nostra held a fruitful meeting with European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Mariya Gabriel. The representatives from Europa Nostra expressed their keen interest in contributing to the European Commission’s policy priorities and latest initiatives – such as the New European Bauhaus, for which Commissioner Gabriel is co-responsible – and made concrete proposals for action to unlock the potential of cultural heritage for Europe’s post-crisis recovery and long-term future.

Exactly one year after their first encounter, a delegation of Europa Nostra – composed of its Executive President Hermann Parzinger, Executive Vice-President Guy Clausse, Vice-President Piet Jaspaert, Secretary General Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailovic, Head of Europa Nostra’s Brussels Office Jimmy Jamar and EU Projects Officer Manon Richard – met virtually with EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel. The meeting aimed at exchanging views and updates on the latest policy developments and key policy priorities, particularly the European Green Deal, the New European Bauhaus initiative and the Conference on the Future of Europe.

The Executive President of Europa Nostra, Hermann Parzinger, first congratulated EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel for her outstanding achievements amid the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis. He particularly stressed her success in securing and mainstreaming financial support for the cultural and heritage sector into the Next Generation EU recovery plan as well as her fruitful ongoing exchanges with civil society stakeholders. These have resulted in much stronger and wider recognition of the positive impact of culture and cultural heritage on all key EU priorities. Likewise, EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel thanked Europa Nostra for its long-standing commitment and support for the benefit of Europe’s cultural heritage.

EUROPEAN GREEN DEAL & EUROPEAN CULTURAL HERITAGE GREEN PAPER

The Europa Nostra delegation updated Commissioner Gabriel on the European Cultural Heritage Green Paper “Putting Europe’s shared heritage at the heart of the European Green Deal”, produced by Europa Nostra in close cooperation with ICOMOS and the Climate Heritage Network, with the input of other members of the European Heritage Alliance, and with the support of the European Investment Bank Institute and the Creative Europe programme of the European Union. The Paper correlates the contribution of cultural heritage to all key areas of the European Green Deal and proposes a series of concrete recommendations both for policy-makers and for cultural heritage stakeholders. This policy and advocacy document will also be highly relevant for other policy priorities of the European Union, such as the recently launched New European Bauhaus initiative of the European Commission.

EU Commissioner Gabriel highlighted the importance of the holistic approach of the European Cultural Heritage Green Paper. This important Paper shall also be useful for the implementation of the Joint Action Plan between the Committee of the Regions and the European Commission’s Directorate Generals for Education and Culture, for Research and Innovation, and the Joint Research Centre.

NEW EUROPEAN BAUHAUS

The Europa Nostra delegation informed EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel of its keen interest and readiness in contributing to the New European Bauhaus initiative, which seeks to bridge the world of science & technology with the world of art & culture to shape Europe’s future living environment around the core values of sustainability, aesthetics and inclusiveness. As expressed in a statement issued in December 2020 and conveyed to the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, cultural heritage is highly relevant for the success of this ambitious initiative as European cities and regions are built over centuries of history, reflected in buildings and landscapes alike. Therefore, Europa Nostra stands ready to mobilise its expertise, knowledge and wide network to collect and disseminate relevant best practices and widely engage citizens in the reflection.

EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel reiterated her full support for Europa Nostra as a key partner of the New European Bauhaus, who will play a key role in co-creating the movement. She also highlighted the strong bottom-up approach of the initiative and the need to reach out to all corners of Europe and actively involve the younger generations.

CONFERENCE ON THE FUTURE OF EUROPE

Following on the issue of citizens’ involvement, Europa Nostra stressed the importance of making culture and cultural heritage an integral part of the Conference on the Future of Europe. Cultural heritage has a specific role to play for the resilience of our democracy and society, as it brings people together and strengthens their sense of belonging to a wider European community. In this respect, Europa Nostra aims at actively mobilising its network by encouraging the organisation of grassroots citizens’ debates in heritage sites all across Europe. This idea was also conveyed and enthusiastically welcomed by European Commission Vice-President Dubravka Šuica during a meeting on 3 March. EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel also expressed her support for the idea.

UPDATES ON PROJECTS AND PROGRAMMES

Guy Clausse, Executive Vice-President of Europa Nostra, gave a short update on the 7 Most Endangered Programme 2021. The 12 shortlisted sites were revealed in December 2020 and the final list will be released during an online event on 8 April 2021, in which EU Commissioner Gabriel accepted to participate.

Sneska Quaedvlieg-Mihailovic, Secretary General of Europa Nostra, updated EU Commissioner on the European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards 2021. She reminded the success of the first-ever virtual Awards Ceremony that took place on 10 November 2020, attracting more than 1,000 participants, including a large delegation of young people, which she co-hosted together with EU Commissioner Gabriel.

At last, the delegation mentioned its recent initiatives to actively involve young heritage professionals and students within Europa Nostra’s activities. EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel particularly praised Europa Nostra’s partnership with ESACH and the European Heritage Tribune to launch the European Heritage Youth Ambassadors programme. They also discussed the need to further promote the European Solidarity Corps, and suggested cultural heritage as one of the sectors that attract and speak to the hearts and minds of young people.

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