Plácido Domingo welcomes President Macron’s powerful political impetus in favour of Europe of Culture

Europa Nostra and its President Plácido Domingo applauded the major and impassioned speech delivered by the French President Emmanuel Macron on 7 September in the historic setting of the Pnyx hill in Athens. “Recommençons aussi par la Culture”, President Macron stated when speaking about the future of the European project. In his letter sent to President Macron on 17 October, Plácido Domingo congratulated him for this unprecedented political vision and commitment to the promotion of a Europe of culture and cultural heritage as a prerequisite of any revival of the European project. Europa Nostra fully endorses this vision as we share President Macron’s belief that we cannot continue to build Europe without recognising the need to protect together our rich cultural heritage, which is “the very substance of our collective memory, our being, our identity and therefore also of our future”.

In his letter, Plácido Domingo offered Europa Nostra’s willingness to support and assist President Macron and the French government in implementing the idea of the organisation of the so-called “Assises européenne du patrimoine culturel” which fully corresponds to the ambition of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018.

Maestro Domingo therefore invited President Macron to the European Cultural Heritage Summit that Europa Nostra will organise, with its German partners and the European Union, from 18-24 June in Berlin, and in particular to the high-level policy debate followed by the European Heritage Awards Ceremony, which will be co-hosted by the President of Europa Nostra and the European Commission for Culture Tibor Navracsics, on 22 June, in the expected presence of the Federal President of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

The European Cultural Heritage Summit will seek to provide an ideal platform for Europe’s most senior policy-makers and representatives of many civil society associations and networks to join forces and to convey a strong message to citizens, Member States, local authorities and EU institutions on the value and multiple benefits that cultural heritage holds for Europe, culturally, but also in economic, social and environmental terms. The Summit could also enable us to take forward, together, the idea of an ambitious future European Union programme to promote European cooperation in the field of cultural heritage, thus enabling the European Year of Cultural Heritage to achieve tangible and sustainable results. This would fully correspond to the vision and conviction expressed by President Macron in Athens on 7 September, at the Sorbonne University in Paris on 26 September (read speech) and at the Frankfurt Book Fair on 10 October (read speech).

In the meantime, the French Minister of Culture Françoise Nyssen has already begun to translate the President’s political impetus into concrete action, as demonstrated by the informal meeting of the Ministers of Culture of the EU Member States, entitled ‘Reviving Europe through Culture’ (Refonder l’Europe par la Culture), which was jointly hosted by France and Germany on 11 October in the margins of the Frankfurt Book Fair 2017. These informal discussions came, among others, to the conclusion that cultural heritage must be protected not just in Europe but also throughout the world, given its importance for the history of humanity.

Subsequently, Europa Nostra’s Executive President Denis de Kergorlay wrote a letter to Minister Nyssen congratulating her on the French government leadership in favour of a more ambitious agenda for culture and cultural heritage at European level and conveying the full support of Europa Nostra and other civil society organisations for these endeavours. It is our hope that the European Year of Cultural Heritage would lead to new policy and funding developments in favour of European cooperation for the safeguard and enhancement of cultural heritage, both within the European Union and in the framework of EU’s international cultural relations.

Last but not least, the lunch debate dedicated to Education and Culture which was convened by Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, on the occasion of the Social Summit for Fair Jobs and Growth which took place in Gothenburg on 17 November and the Communication entitled “Strengthening European Identity through Education and Culture” published on 14 November as European Commission’s contribution to the discussions at the Gothenburg Summit are further strong proofs of the current strong political impetus in favour of education and culture as key resources for the future of Europe.

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