European Parliament hosts interparliamentary meeting on European Cultural Heritage in Brussels

European Cultural Heritage was high on the agenda in Brussels on 19-20 November thanks to an interparliamentary committee meeting organised by the European Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education (CULT). It brought together Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and members of national parliaments in Europe as well as stakeholders, such as national coordinators of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 (EYCH) and members of the EYCH Stakeholders Committee, including several members of the European Heritage Alliance 3.3. Europa Nostra joined the two-day event with a 20+ delegation of members as well as Board and Council members. Europa Nostra’s Secretary General Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović gave a keynote speech on the second day of the meeting.

© European Union, 2018 – Source: European Parliament.

On 20 November, participants came together for a joint session, with brief reports from and keynote speakers for each of the three topics discussed the previous day, namely cultural heritage and education; preservation, conservation and restoration of cultural heritage; and culture and identity. This joint session was chaired by MEP Petra Kammerevert, Chair of the CULT Committee. Watch video of the full session

In his address, Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, announced that he will present the Action Plan for Cultural Heritage on 7 December in Vienna at the closing conference of the European Year. “This Action Plan will define a policy legacy of the European Year, and much more – it will be a roadmap for our future work in safeguarding and promoting Europe’s cultural heritage. It will start from the actions that the European Commission is implementing during the Year, in line with the principles of engagement, sustainability, protection and innovation. It will cover topics such as youth volunteering, the accessibility of cultural heritage and activities to fight the illicit trafficking of cultural goods. Innovation and science will also be high on the agenda,” stated the Commissioner.

In her keynote speech on “Culture and Identity”, Europa Nostra Secretary General Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović paid tribute to both members of the European Parliament and national parliaments and also to civil society whose commitment had actually made possible the European Year of Cultural Heritage, as a true bottom-up initiative. She recalled that much had been achieved already in 2018, but more needed to be done, especially to ensure the lasting legacy of the European Year. “We now have the shared responsibility to sustain the momentum and to use the positive and cohesive power of our shared cultural heritage to give a deeper meaning and sense of direction to the entire European project,” stressed the Secretary General of Europa Nostra. Last but not least, she presented the symbolic number of 2018 signatures already collected for the Berlin Call to Action: “Cultural Heritage for the Future of Europe” and called on all parliamentarians to read and support the document by signing it.

After closing statements by European Commissioner Tibor Navracsics and Chair Petra Kammerevert MEP, Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović and Uwe Koch handed over the symbolic number of signatories of the Berlin Call to both high-level representatives.

Europa Nostra’s delegation participated in the parallel working sessions organised around three thematic and highly topical areas on the afternoon of 19 November, with a majority attending the session on cultural heritage and education.

Parallel working session on cultural heritage and education

Chaired by MEP Sabine Verheyen, this session saw interventions from the European Commission on the state of play of the European Year, from the national coordinator of the European Year in Sweden about some projects on heritage and education that were initiated during the EYCH but that will continue beyond 2018, thus contributing to the legacy of the Year. After the presentations, members of parliaments and external guests – including Europa Nostra’s delegates – engaged in a discussion with the panellists, stressing also the importance of art education. Watch video of this session

Parallel working session on preservation, conservation and restoration of cultural heritage

Chaired by MEP Mircea Diaconu, this session included detailed presentations from representatives of DG Education and Culture and DG Research and Environment of the European Commission on the European Year of Cultural Heritage focusing on the Protection and Innovation pillars and related initiatives, as well as a presentation by a representative of DG Environment on “linking natural and cultural heritage”. The debate also comprised interesting contributions from UNESCO on the World Heritage Journeys in Europe, the Secretariat of the Council of Europe and the Legal Service of the European Parliament. As it was the only parallel session with full translation into all EU languages, a majority of members of national parliaments participated in a lively discussion. Europa Nostra Council members Koen van Balen and Claus-Peter Echter actively joined the discussion, as well as members of the European Heritage Alliance 3.3. Watch video of this session

Parallel working session on culture and identity

Symbolically, this session was held at the House of European History, a short walk from the European Parliament, and moderated by MEP Silvia Costa, former Chair of the CULT Committee. Dr Uwe Koch from the German Cultural Heritage Committee (DNK), also acting as national coordinator for the EYCH in Germany, presented the German contribution to the Year with its symbolic motto “Sharing Heritage”, which had also inspired the motto of the first ever European Cultural Heritage Summit. Europa Nostra’s Board member Rodolphe de Looz-Corswarem, Honorary President of the European Historic Houses Association, and Secretary General Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović engaged in the lively debate.

Background information

In a statement published ahead of the interparliamentary meeting, Mr Johannes Selle MdB, member of the German Bundestag committee on culture also referred to the Berlin Call to Action “Cultural Heritage for the Future of Europe”.

The Berlin Call to Action was presented in the European Parliament earlier this year on the occasion of a high-level conference on cultural heritage held on 26 June.

See photos

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