Cultural heritage in EU policies

Written by Magdalena Pasikowska-Schnass,


© Samuele Gallini / Fotolia

2018 is devoted to the European Union’s cultural heritage. This paper focuses on the evolution of the very notion of cultural heritage, its role and place in society, as well as the way it is perceived and interpreted in the context of related EU prerogatives. The European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 is a result of this evolution, and allows EU citizens to gain a broad understanding of their cultural heritage in all its aspects, democratically share responsibility for it, celebrate it and benefit from the creation it inspires.

Despite the fact that the EU has limited powers in respect of cultural heritage – the role of the European institutions is generally limited to financial support, coordination of joint projects and efforts, and sharing of knowledge – it has contributed to raising awareness about preservation, conservation and restoration issues, technological research (for example 3D reconstructions) and scientific progress in technological solutions. Furthermore, the EU has become an international expert in the field.

See also our Topical Digest on Cultural heritage in Europe: linking past and future

Cultural heritage has been taken into consideration in numerous EU funding programmes, which has allowed Member States to undertake action to revive their national or local heritage, keep their traditions and crafts, and thereby develop their cultural tourism.

The European Parliament has adopted resolutions highlighting, inter alia, the dangers from which cultural heritage is to be protected both in the EU and the world, and underlining the necessity to address trafficking and looting of cultural heritage artefacts, the protection of cultural heritage, including traditional crafts, and the role of cultural heritage in sustainable tourism.

Read this briefing on ‘Cultural heritage in EU policies‘ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

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