European Parliament stands up for cultural heritage

Today is an important day for cultural heritage in Europe as the Members of the European Parliament have recognised the vital role of heritage in Europe and the opportunities it represents for our economy and our development by adopting with a large majority (613 votes in favour, 70 against and 19 abstentions) a Resolution calling for the implementation of an integrated approach towards cultural heritage for Europe. During the debate preceding the vote, the Rapporteur from Romania, Mircea Diaconu, described his report as a tool “to convince the political authorities of the importance of cultural heritage”. The Chair of the Education and Cultural Committee, Silvia Costa, also mentioned the relevance of communicating the importance of heritage to the European Commission to ensure the continuity of efforts in this field. For his part, European Commissioner Tibor Navracsics clearly stated the European Commission shares the view that “supporting, enhancing and promoting cultural heritage through an integrated approach is of paramount importance”.

Mircea Diaconu, CULT Rapporteur, speaking about the Report/EP Resolution 'Towards an integrated approach to cultural heritage for Europe' at a press conference held at the European Parliament on 8 September 2015. Photo: EP

Mircea Diaconu, CULT Rapporteur, speaking about the EP Resolution ‘ at the European Parliament on 8 September 2015. Photo: EP

Europa Nostra welcomes this renewed European commitment towards cultural heritage, following the Conclusions of the Greek and Italian Presidencies (adopted in May 2014 and November 2014) and the Communication of the European Commission published in July 2014.

“We are particularly thankful to the European Parliament for sending such a strong message to the European Commission and the Member States that cultural heritage counts for Europe in a variety of ways. We wholeheartedly support the policy recommendations put forward in the Resolution, starting with the call to designate 2018 as the European Year of Cultural Heritage,” stated Secretary General Sneska Quaedvlieg-Mihailovic.

To show the support of civil society for this important resolution and to continue discussing the value of heritage based on solid facts and figures, Europa Nostra and the Intergroup on Development of European Tourism, Cultural Heritage, Ways of St. James and other European Cultural Routes are organising a debate on “Cultural Heritage Counts for Europe” on Wednesday 16 September 2015 gathering the Members of the European Parliament, officials from different European Commission Directorate Generals related to heritage, stakeholders and civil society actors. The programme is available here.

Policy Recommendations included in the Resolution
Apart from the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018, the Members of the European Parliament make a series of important policy recommendations. The Resolution is composed of 5 parts:
– The first is on the Integrated Approach which “Considers it of paramount importance to use the available resources for supporting, enhancing and promoting cultural heritage on the basis of an integrated approach, while taking into account the cultural, economic, social, historical, educational, environmental and scientific components” and in which the Members call for the designation of 2018 as the European Year of Cultural Heritage;
– In the second part, on European funding for cultural heritage, the Members ask the European Commission to dedicate a single EU portal to tangible and intangible cultural heritage regrouping all relevant information; to review the EUR 5 million benchmark for cultural heritage projects submitted in the framework of small-scale infrastructure action, aligning it to UNESCO projects (i.e. EUR 10 million); to include a compulsory quality control system throughout projects’ life-cycle in the guidelines governing the next generation of structural finds for cultural heritage;
– The third part, on New Governance models, asks, amongst others, for the introduction of a heritage impact assessment to European legislative proposals;
– In the fourth part, on The economic and strategic potential of cultural heritage, the Members affirm the urgent need to give cultural heritage its clear place in the Commission’s Investment Plan for Europe. They also ask the European Commission to propose a set of indicators to develop heritage statistics to be used to monitor and evaluate the state of heritage in Europe and the Member States to emphasise the value of their heritage assets by promoting studies to determine the cultural and economic value of the cultural heritage so as to transform the ‘cost’ of its preservation into an ‘investment’ in its value;
– The fifth part, on Opportunities and challenges, calls for a strong commitment on all sides to prevent, protect, document and restore cultural heritage and for the adoption of international agreements to prevent illicit trafficking of cultural heritage

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