At European Culture Forum held in Brussels on 19th April 2016, a special public announcement was made by European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Tibor Navracsics. Emphasizing the importance of protecting and preserving cultural heritage, Mr. Navracsics confirmed that European Commission is to present a proposal to make 2018 the European Year of Cultural Heritage.
“I am convinced that it would be a good opportunity to boost awareness of and promote education about our cultural heritage. And I will be happy to start the legislative procedure and to work with Member States, the European Parliament and with stakeholders like you to make this happen,” says Navracsics.
In the address made at the Forum, Navracsics emphasized several factors that have contributed to the increased need for putting cultural heritage in focus for 2018. With a number of issues that seem to be testing the “ability and will” of Europeans to live together on both local and international level, shared culture help us build strong personal networks and relationships. This is why it is important to dedicate more attention to our cultural heritage and join forces in preserving it for future generations. Navracsics also pointed to the roles of people and communities in this process, as well as in the realization of the European Year of Cultural Heritage initiative, concluding that:
“As Europeans, we have a strong, shared culture that can help us overcome division and build a strong, diverse, inclusive Europe. A Europe that stands up for its fundamental values and continues the dialogue that helps us understand each other and ourselves – both here, in our communities, and in the world.”
European Commission’s proposal builds upon an earlier initiative by the German Cultural Heritage Committee (Deutsches Nationalkomitee fur Denkmalschutz, DNK) to dedicate a European Year to Cultural Heritage. This idea was strongly supported by the Reflection Group on “EU and Cultural Heritage,” Europa Nostra, and other members of the European Heritage Alliance 3.3 from the start, gaining more traction in November 2015 when a group of officials, politicians and civil society representatives gathered in Berlin to encourage its adoption.
Navracsics’s address at the 2016 European Culture Forum is therefore rightfully characterized as “a historic day for our ever-growing European movement for cultural heritage,” as suggested by Europa Nostra. On behalf of this vocal supporter of the initiative, its president Maestro Plácido Domingo expressed his excitement about the proposal:
“We look forward to celebrating the future European Year of Cultural Heritage, together with Commissioner Navracsics, with many members and partners, and together with proud laureates of our European Heritage Awards run in partnership with the European Commission, on the occasion of our forthcoming European Heritage Congress which will be held in Madrid on 22-27 May.”
The year 2018 will thus mark a new era in the field of cultural heritage, while numerous events in the next two years will enable international officials, researchers and civil society representatives to share their ideas on cultural topics and help building awareness of issues that matter to all Europeans.