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European Heritage Label

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European Heritage Label



Decision No 1194/2011/EU establishing the European Heritage Label


  • It establishes a European Heritage Label awarded to sites located in the EU which have a key role in European history and culture as well as in European integration.


The aim of the European Heritage Label is:

  • to put the spotlight on common European heritage to strengthen citizens’ sense of belonging to the EU; and
  • to reinforce dialogue between cultures.

Through cultural tourism in particular, heritage plays a key role in the economic development of European regions, which benefit from a raised profile.

The focus on the European symbolic value of the sites and their educational dimension differentiates the European label from the heritage initiatives put in place by Unesco (e.g. World Heritage List or Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity) and the Council of Europe.

Award criteria

The following may apply:

  • monuments;
  • natural, underwater, archaeological, industrial or urban sites;
  • cultural landscapes;
  • places of remembrance;
  • cultural goods and objects(i.e. items possessing artistic, historic, or archaeological value to a particular country); and
  • intangible heritage associated with a place (e.g. oral traditions, rituals, performing arts), including contemporary heritage.

Joint applications can be submitted by:

  • transnational sites, located in several EU countries and focused on 1 specific theme; and
  • national thematic sites which include several sites focused on 1 specific theme in the same country.

Candidate sites for the label must demonstrate that they fulfil at least one of the following conditions:

  • their transnational or pan-European nature, by showing how their influence and attractiveness extend beyond national borders;
  • their place and role in European history and integration and their relationship with key European events, personalities or movements;
  • their place and role in developing and promoting the common values upon which the EU is built (e.g. the Peace Palace in The Hague, The Netherlands).

In addition, candidate sites must submit a project in which they undertake to:

  • raise citizens’ awareness of the European dimension of the site;
  • organise educational activities;
  • encourage multilingualism;
  • participate in networking activities of sites having been awarded the label; and
  • promote the site at European level.

A work plan must also be presented and show how the candidates will meet a number of conditions such as streamlined management of the site, guaranteeing its preservation and access for as many people as possible.

Selection procedure

Preselection of sites is carried out by EU countries that may choose up to two sites every 2 years. The list is then submitted to a European panel of independent experts that selects a maximum of one site per country. Upon the panel’s recommendations, the European Commission designates the sites that are to be awarded the label.

The sites are regularly monitored to ensure that they continue to meet the criteria and that they implement their projects and work plans. If this is not the case, the panel can propose adjustments in collaboration with the country concerned. If the necessary measures are not implemented, the Commission may withdraw the label.

The first labels were attributed in 2013.


It applies since 23 November 2011.


Now a formal EU initiative and part of the Creative Europe programme (2014-2020), the European Heritage Label was first launched in 2006 in the form of an intergovernmental initiative involving 18 EU countries.

For more information, see:


Decision No 1194/2011/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 November 2011 establishing a European Union action for the European Heritage Label (OJ L 303, 22.11.2011, pp. 1-9)

last update 04.07.2016