Europa Nostra holds fruitful meeting with Elisa Ferreira, European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms

At the very start of 2021, Europa Nostra convened a series of virtual meetings with high-level EU leaders to take stock on the latest policy developments and key priorities of the European Union. On 11 February, a delegation of Europa Nostra held a fruitful meeting with European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms Elisa Ferreira. The representatives from Europa Nostra expressed our keen interest in contributing to the European Commission’s latest initiatives – such as the New European Bauhaus, for which Commissioner Ferreira is co-responsible – and advocated for a more prominent role of cultural heritage in regional policy, cohesion funds and the NextGenerationEU recovery plan. This meeting also aimed at sustaining and enhancing Europa Nostra’s long-standing partnership with the European Commission and its different services.

A delegation of Europa Nostra – composed of its Executive Vice-President Guy Clausse, Senior Vice-President Androulla Vassiliou, Secretary General Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailovic, Head of Europa Nostra Brussels Office Jimmy Jammar, Administrator of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Guilherme d’Oliveira Martins, European Policy Coordinator Lorena Aldana and European Projects Officer Manon Richard – met Commissioner Elisa Ferreira for the first time on 11 February via videoconference.

During an inspiring and fruitful exchange, Europa Nostra representatives and Commissioner Elisa Ferreira exchanged on important EU priorities and how cultural heritage can contribute to these, notably: the New European Bauhaus initiative, the European Green Deal and, more broadly, the relaunch of Europe’s economy and society in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Europa Nostra expressed its keen readiness to proactively contribute to these important initiatives by mobilising its expertise, knowledge and wide network. In particular, Europa Nostra stressed the relevance of cultural heritage for the success of the New European Bauhaus initiative, – under the co-responsibility of Commissioner Ferreira – as expressed in a communication issued in December 2020 on this matter. There was an agreement that the voice of cultural heritage ought to contribute to this innovative endeavour, which seeks to reassess European living places and ways of living with a new set of values. The Europa Nostra delegation reminded that the European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards constitutes an invaluable collection of best practices in the field of cultural heritage, including many topics of relevance to the New European Bauhaus, such as adaptive re-use of historic buildings, heritage-led innovation and sustainable urban development. In the meantime, Europa Nostra has been proudly selected as one of first 13 partners of the New European Bauhaus initiative.

Europa Nostra also informed Commissioner Elisa Ferreira about the European Cultural Heritage Green Paper (to be presented on 22 March 2021), produced by Europa Nostra in close cooperation with ICOMOS and the Climate Heritage Network, with the input of members of the European Heritage Alliance and with the support of the European Investment Bank Institute. This important document makes a convincing plea that our cultural heritage is key to achieving the ambitious goals of the European Green Deal and ensuring its lasting impact. The Paper also recognises the New European Bauhaus initiative as an important linkage between the European Green Deal and the realm of culture.

Other topics discussed were the role and potential of cultural heritage for the green and sustainable relaunch of Europe’s economy and society in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular through the ambitious long-term EU budget and the EU recovery plan. Commissioner Elisa Ferreira reminded the different programmes through which heritage-related actions can be funded by the EU, notably within REACT-EU and Horizon Europe, which specifically mention cultural heritage among their key priorities. The Europa Nostra delegation raised the need for the European Commission to encourage Member States and their regions to duly include cultural heritage when using the available recovery funds, as stated in the Joint Statement “A Cultural Deal for Europe: A central place for culture in the EU’s post-pandemic future” issued by Europa Nostra, Culture Action Europe and the European Cultural Foundation last November. This Joint statement puts forward a series of concrete proposals for realising the potential of culture and heritage as major forces in the EU’s socio-economic recovery and its long-term future.

Among the concrete actions discussed were the organisation by Europa Nostra of a high-level policy event in the framework of the Portuguese Presidency of the European Union, to be held in June 2021 (either virtually, physically or in an hybrid format). This high-level event would bring together key decision-makers at all levels of governance as well as heritage and civil society stakeholders to launch an ambitious “New Heritage Deal for Europe”. The event shall highlight how cultural heritage can be a vector to achieve the key priorities of the European Union, including social cohesion and inclusion, sustainability and Europe’s green and digital transformation. Being responsible for social cohesion and being Portuguese herself, the involvement of Commissioner Elisa Ferreira would be most relevant. Commissioner Ferreira welcomed this invitation positively and further discussions will be taking place in the near future.

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