Cultural heritage helps us learn about each other and ourselves. It can be a powerful tool to build bridges between people, communities and countries, reinforcing intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding. Due to this potential, cooperation on cultural heritage is one of the three priority axes of the EU Strategy for International Cultural Relations (2016), proposing a framework for cultural cooperation between the EU and the rest of the world.

The European Year of Cultural Heritage (EYCH) aims to contribute to the recognition of cultural heritage as a key element in the external relations of the EU, and has the potential to become a very concrete example of the implementation of the strategy.

The year is an opportunity to reinforce existent and develop new initiatives that place cultural heritage at the core of EU relations with partner countries, building on their interest and needs and on Europe’s expertise in the field.

For whom?

Local communities, heritage professionals and cultural organisations in partner countries, international networks working in the field of cultural heritage.


International cooperation is a cross-cutting issue in many of the initiatives implemented for the year. Particularly, the international profile of the EYCH is being raised through 3 main components:

Component 1: Celebrating Europe’s cultural heritage around the world

The year is global thanks to the support of the European Union Delegations abroad, developing different initiatives, activating local partnerships and bringing Europe’s cultural heritage closer to local communities around the world.

Some examples:

  • the EU Delegation in Mexico, in partnership with the city government, developed a large-format EYCH photo exhibition in the main avenue of Mexico City, reaching over 4 million people;
  • in the USA, the programme for the EYCH included a public event on digital preservation of cultural heritage in May 2018, in collaboration with Europeana;
  • in the Dominican Republic, national competitions, cultural events, workshops and a European Gastronomic Festival are being organised;
  • the EU Delegation in Turkey launched the year in February 2018 in the presence of thousands of visitors at the Ankara Book Fair;
  • and the EU Delegation to FYROM launched a call for proposals to finance projects related to the EYCH.

The EYCH has also partnered with non-EU countries for a wider reach. Although initially conceived for EU Member States, association to the year by partner countries was possible due to its increasing popularity. The Western Balkan countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, FYROM, Montenegro and Serbia), as well as Georgia, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland are associated and have appointed EYCH National Coordinators. Some associated countries have already launched the EYCH, developed specific programmes and activated communication efforts.


• 23 April
EYCH 2018 International Perspectives Forum, organised by the EU Cultural Diplomacy Platform in Brussels, Belgium
• Throughout May
Europe’s day - EYCH celebrations around the world

Throughout 2018
Awareness raising actions, events and initiatives by EU Delegations, EU National Cultural Institutes abroad and associated countries.

Component 2: Supporting capacity-building for the heritage sector worldwide

3 projects are supporting capacity-building for the heritage sector worldwide:

  • In the Western Balkans, the “Cultural heritage route”, is connecting and highlighting events organised by the EU Delegations and EU National Institutes for Culture, in close cooperation with local civil society, with the aim of creating a sustainable network of cultural heritage operators.
  • The Silk Road Heritage Corridors around UNESCO sites in Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asia address key development objectives, such as job creation through local development strategies and sustainable tourism, skills development, social cohesion and knowledge exchange. The EU is devoting a total amount of EUR 3.5 million to this initiative.
  • A joint project with UNESCO is providing rapid assessments and immediate safeguarding measures of cultural heritage in risk due to conflict or disaster in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen.

Component 3: Valorising EU actions in cultural heritage international cooperation

  • The EU supports the protection of cultural heritage around the world through different instruments and programmes. For instance, through the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA), the EU offered financial assistance to candidate and potential candidate countries, with an estimated of €33 million dedicated to cultural heritage between 2007 and 2011. Cultural heritage is also funded by the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI) and the Development Co-operation Instrument (CDI). The year is putting in the spotlight projects already supported through these instruments by promoting successful stories.
  • On the occasion of the EYCH, the European Commission (Directorate General for Development and Cooperation - DEVCO) is conducting a mapping on ongoing heritage related projects in third countries to promote the sharing and dissemination of good practices. Examples include intangible cultural heritage projects for social reconciliation through memory in Rwanda, and job creation through cultural heritage in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Tibet.


  • EU Delegations abroad and the European External Action Service 
  • EU National Cultural Institutes around the world and EUNIC
  • Countries associated to the EYCH
  • The UNESCO and UNESCO National Commissions operating in third countries

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