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Cultural heritage as a vehicle of cultural identity

Cultural heritage is widely recognised across Europe as a vehicle of cultural identity. How much people know about cultural heritage depends both on what is done to promote it and also on the capacity of Europeans to become familiar with and appreciate their own culture and those of the other EU Member States.

Preserving and enhancing common heritage
Access to common heritage
World heritage

Preserving and enhancing common heritage
Preserving and enhancing Europe's cultural heritage is one of the key objectives of the cultural cooperation programme "Culture 2000", approximately 34% of whose budget is earmarked for this purpose.
The programme supports projects for conserving European heritage of exceptional importance - so-called "European heritage laboratories" - some of which have, for instance, played a part in the restoration of the frescoes in the Basilica of St Francis of Assisi in Italy.

The Culture 2000 programme also provides support for cooperation projects in the heritage field - such as the Art Nouveau Network - which can cover projects involving, among other things, training, the exchange of experience and the development of cultural multimedia products. It also supports the "Europa Nostra" awards, which are granted to heritage restoration projects.

In its Resolution of 26 June 2000, the Council once again stressed the importance of preserving and enhancing Europe's cinematic heritage. The MEDIA programme (2001-2005), which supports the European audiovisual industry, contributes to the development of Europe's cinematic heritage by co-financing projects which promote the development of digital archives and the distribution of European audiovisual works in cinemas, on videos/DVDs or on digital networks.
The preservation of heritage is also one of the objectives of the Information Society Technologies programme (IST) within the framework of its action Preservation and development of the cultural heritage (6th framework programme for research and technological development).

Access to common heritage   Haut de la page
The European Union uses its education and training programmes and its joint information campaigns with the Council of Europe to foster public access to cultural heritage.

Learning about common heritage
The SOCRATES programme supports educational projects in the field of cultural heritage which involve schools and museums, for example; the Leonardo da Vinci programme finances, among other things, training in traditional crafts and in the restoration and development of cultural heritage.
Moreover, specific action has been taken to promote regional and minority languages, which form part of Europe's cultural and linguistic heritage.

Raising awareness of common heritage
The European Union is involved in efforts to raise awareness of cultural heritage, such as the "Europe, a common heritage" campaign, which was launched in 1999 by the Council of Europe. As part of this campaign, the European Commission and the Council of Europe have signed five conventions and launched several joint projects - within the framework of the Culture 2000 programme- on the subject of photographic heritage, Europe's ancient universities, the craft industry and Europe's musical traditions.
The Council of Europe and the European Union are also working together to organise European Heritage Days, which have been held since 1991. The Culture 2000 programme also finances projects which seek to raise awareness of common heritage.

World heritage  Haut de la page
The need to protect and enhance cultural heritage extends beyond Europe's borders. The Union is seeking to meet this need by working with international organisations and non-member countries with which it has signed cooperation or association agreements.
In accordance with the convention signed in 1999 by the European Commission and the Council of Europe, a joint study has been carried out on the destruction of cultural heritage in Kosovo. The European Union is working with UNESCO to preserve cultural and world heritage, for instance within the HeritageNet project.

The protection of world heritage is also addressed in the agreements concluded with the Union's partner countries:
EUROMED Heritage is a regional programme which fosters the development of cultural heritage in the European Mediterranean area; it forms part of the cooperation programme with the Mediterranean countries (MEDA). EUMEDIS is an initiative designed to promote the development in Mediterranean countries of digital services, such as multimedia services which provide information about cultural assets and tourist sites.

The ASIA-URB programme supports urban development projects launched jointly by Asian and European cities.
Efforts to protect and enhance cultural heritage are also being undertaken as part of the cooperation activities between the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries under the terms of the Cotonou Agreement.

Last update: 03-05-2006