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Looking after Europe’s cultural heritage

Cultural heritage organisations need to make use of European Union funding and policies to address current challenges. The European Commission highlights the opportunities for EU countries to work together for sustained growth and job creation in the heritage sector.


Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: Towards an integrated approach to cultural heritage for Europe (COM(2014) 477 final of 22.7.2014).



It calls for stronger cooperation and integration on the sharing of ideas and best practices in the cultural heritage sector on an EU level. It invites all groups involved to consider how policies at all levels can be best used to strengthen the sector.

The Commission also seeks to enhance the societal value of the cultural heritage sector as well as to increase its positive impact on economic growth.



The EU’s cultural heritage sector faces a number of challenges. These include:

  • decreases in public budgets;
  • declining participation in traditional cultural activities and the diversification of potential audiences;
  • increasing environmental and physical pressures on heritage sites (e.g. the accumulation of visitors’ breath has affected the atmosphere in caves with prehistoric paintings);
  • trafficking of cultural artefacts;
  • globalisation;
  • technological change and digitisation (e.g. online access permits the creation of new businesses providing cultural content).

Therefore the Communication calls for a more integrated approach from the sector to make the most out of the support available under EU funding schemes to counter these challenges.


The Commission believes that the cultural heritage sector is undervalued as a contributor to economic growth and social cohesion with only partial estimates of its importance available. However, according to existing information, the sector does make a significant economic contribution especially in the areas of construction and tourism.

Furthermore the Commission believes the sector contributes to the objectives of the European Cultural Agenda which promote:

  • cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue;
  • culture as a catalyst for creativity;
  • culture and heritage in EU external relations.


European cultural heritage benefits from a range of European policies, programmes and funding. A non-exhaustive mapping of cultural heritage actions in European Union policies, programmes and activities complements the communication.

For more information, see the Supporting Europe’s cultural and creative sectors page on the European Commission's website.

last update 19.05.2015