Thank you very much for inviting me and giving me the opportunity to address something that is extremely close to my heart: Cultural Heritage.

I want to thank Europeana and Europa Nostra not only for organizing this timely event, but also for their constant and tireless work to safeguard and promote cultural and natural heritage in the EU.

Your dedication and resilience are an inspiration to all of us.

I also want to thank the other speakers for their active involvement and support.  

We will have a discussion later on so allow me to be brief and clear.

Cultural Heritage represents our history and our identity. It is the most solid bridge between our past, our present, and our future.

This bond is what has brought us here today, on this very special day.

Europe Day and Cultural Heritage have many things in common, but I would like to underline two: unity and solidarity.

As you have put it in your Manifesto, Cultural Heritage is a powerful catalyst.

Together we want to build on the important achievements of the European Year of Cultural Heritage and go to the next level.

For me, Cultural Heritage is not a sector. It is Europe’s soul and values.

As such, it should be mainstreamed across all EU policies. During the discussion, I will have the chance to give a few examples.

Our society, our European Union are based on our common Cultural Heritage.

It belongs to all of us. It is part of who we are. It is also a great source of revenue for local economies, via the development of tourism. Of unique and creative jobs that show the richness of Europe.

The Covid-19 outbreak has shaken our way of life. It has and will force us to rethink our way of life; this is also true for the European Union.

I think we should pause for a moment; look at the legacy left by our Cultural Heritage and get inspired to make a new start based on Europe’s hearts and talents.

On my side, I will use the unique opportunity of having Research and Innovation as well as Education, Culture and Youth, together for the first time to further promote Cultural Heritage.

One example: the knowledge square based on Education, Research, Innovation and Service to Society, has at its roots Cultural Heritage.

Cultural Heritage is at the basis of the cohesion of the European continent.

  • What we need now is to show that we cherish our local roots / soul / identity.
  • Value innovation to show our commitment for inclusive and united Europe.
  • Looking at the future: concrete perspectives; show EU leadership through cultural diplomacy.

Jean Monnet said ‘People only accept change when they are faced with necessity, and only recognize necessity when a crisis is upon them’.

Let us seize this crisis as an opportunity to reaffirm the heart of our EU project: culture and cultural heritage.