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Document 52019DC0548


COM/2019/548 final

Brussels, 28.10.2019

COM(2019) 548 final


on the implementation, results and overall assessment of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018


1.1.Context: Europe’s cultural heritage as a resource for Europe

The European Union designated 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage (hereafter ‘EYCH 2018’).

Europe's cultural heritage "constitutes a shared source of remembrance, understanding, identity, dialogue, cohesion and creativity for Europe 1 ". It “encompasses a broad spectrum of resources inherited from the past in all forms and aspects - tangible, intangible and digital (born-digital and digitised), including monuments, sites, landscapes, skills, practices, knowledge and expressions of human creativity, as well as collections conserved and managed by public and private bodies such as museums, libraries and archives, and film heritage” 2 .

As a region, the European Union accounts for more than one third of the UNESCO World Heritage List 3 and a quarter of the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity 4 . So far, 38 sites have received the European Heritage Label 5 for the role they have played in the European history. There are 33 certified Council of Europe Cultural Routes 6 . Europeana, Europe’s digital platform for cultural heritage, makes accessible 54 million items from 3 700 European cultural institutions. When it comes to natural heritage, - a full part of cultural heritage - , the network of 27 000 protected Natura 2000 sites covers 18 % of the EU's land and almost 6 % of its marine territory.

Cultural heritage is also a resource for Europe. Over 300 000 people are employed in the EU cultural heritage sector and 7.8 million EU jobs are indirectly linked to heritage (e.g. interpretation and security).

The present report provides an overview of the implementation and results of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018, in line with Article 10 of Decision (EU) 2017/864 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 May 2017 7 .

1.2.Objectives of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018

The Decision (EU) 2017/864 of the European Parliament and of the Council on a European Year of Cultural Heritage (2018) 8 (hereafter “EYCH Decision”) established  general and specific objectives.

The overall purpose of the European Year was to encourage the sharing and appreciation of Europe's rich and diverse cultural heritage, to raise awareness of our shared history and values and to reinforce a sense of belonging to a common European space.

The general objectives of the Year were to encourage and support the efforts of the Union, the Member States and regional and local authorities, in cooperation with the cultural heritage sector and broader civil society, to protect, safeguard, reuse, enhance, valorise and promote Europe's cultural heritage, and in particular to:

-contribute to promoting the role of Europe's cultural heritage as a pivotal component of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue(…);

-enhance the contribution of Europe's cultural heritage to society and the economy through its direct and indirect economic potential(…);

-contribute to promoting cultural heritage as an important element of the relations between the Union and third countries 9 (…).

1.3.Eurobarometer survey on cultural heritage

In order to prepare the European Year, a special edition of the Eurobarometer survey 10 was carried out in late 2017. It was aimed at assessing the attitudes and opinions of Europeans about cultural heritage.

The survey demonstrated that Europeans consider:

-cultural heritage is important to them personally (84%), as well as to their community (84%), region (87%), country (91%) and the EU as a whole (80%);

-public authorities should allocate more resources to cultural heritage (74%), and that public authorities including the EU should do the most to protect cultural heritage.

-they take pride in cultural heritage (82%), and agree it can improve quality of life (71%) and a sense of belonging to Europe (70%);


A decentralised approach was adopted to implement the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018.

2.1.Governance of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018

At national level, the European Year was coordinated by “national coordinators”, representing the participating countries - all 28 Member States, as well as nine associated countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republic of North Macedonia, Iceland, Montenegro, Norway, Switzerland, Georgia and Serbia).

At European level, the implementation of the European Year was a joint effort of the European Commission (up to 15 DGs), the European Parliament, the Council of the EU, the Committee of the Regions, and the European Economic and Social Committee. The Commission ensured the coordination of the European Year at the Union level.

The European Commission was assisted by a group of 38 civil society organisations (“stakeholders' committee”), selected through an open and transparent process, following an open call for participation. UNESCO and the Council of Europe also took part.

During 2017-2018, the Commission convened six meetings of the stakeholders’ committee and of the national coordinators in order to coordinate the running of the European Year; representatives of the European Parliament participated in the meetings as observers.


The European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 was allocated a budget of 8 million euro, in line with the above-mentioned Decision (EU) 2017/864 for the years 2017-18. A major part of the budget allowed the funding of a dedicated call for cooperation projects under Creative Europe (4.8 million euro). In addition, the Commission used this budget to support projects at European level, such as work with ICOMOS on EU quality standards for intervention on cultural heritage 11 , the WeAre#EuropeForCulture project 12 , the Faro Way project with the Council of Europe 13 and the joint EU-UNESCO project on empowering youth for heritage 14 ; a communication campaign and a Eurobarometer survey 15 (all together 2,8 million euro). The remaining budget covered a number of support and coordination activities.


3.1. Communication campaign

A communication campaign was organised at EU level. The main target audiences included schoolchildren (aged 10-15) and young people (aged 15-25).

The communication material made available to all EU Member states in their respective languages included a visual identity along with a logo specifically designed for the European Year in all 24 EU languages, a slogan - “Our heritage: where the past meets the future”, a web –site 16 , printed and audio-visual communication material in all EU languages, as well as a toolkit for teachers 17 . In addition, a bi-monthly newsletter was set up reaching out to more than 8000 people (top subscribers in Spain, Italy, Belgium, Greece and France).

The social media campaign reached some 18 million people, the majority of whom were young people (18-24 and 25-34 accounting for approximately 31-35% each). In 2018, the #EuropeForCulture appeared 146 000 times on social media platforms.

The European Year of Cultural Heritage also received much attention in the print traditional media, (26,544 media articles for an aggregated on-line readership of 5.3 million people). ARTE offered an EYCH 2018 playlist in five languages.

3.2. Events and initiatives at Member State and EU level

Overall over 23 000 events were organised in 2018, reaching more than 12.8 million participants (11,7 million participating in events organised by the Member States and stakeholders and 1.1 million participating in events organised by EU institutions) 18 . The 2018 EYCH label was awarded to over 13,000 events (including 2 300 in Ireland alone).

Moreover, the third countries associated with the Year carried out more than 620 initiatives and events, attracting more than 600,000 participants.

The 38 members of the stakeholders’ committee, including UNESCO and the Council of Europe, implemented 475 events and initiatives, involving almost 400,000 participants. One of the leading initiatives was the European Cultural Heritage Summit ‘Sharing Heritage Sharing Values’, which took place in Berlin in June 2018, and culminated in the Berlin call to Action ‘Cultural Heritage for the Future of Europe’, signed by more than 2200 citizens and organisations 19 .

The European Parliament organised a dedicated high-level conference and an inter-parliamentary committee meeting on European cultural heritage. The European Economic and Social Committee and the European Committee of the Regions also organised several dedicated events and communication activities.

3.3.EU funded projects and ten European Initiatives

The Commission launched a dedicated call for proposals under the Creative Europe programme. As a result, 29 transnational cooperation projects were selected out of 77 applications, for a total amount of 4.8 million euro 20 .

The regular 2018 Creative Europe call for cooperation projects was also open to cultural heritage. As a result, altogether, 10.3 million euro was granted to 35 cultural heritage projects through Creative Europe in 2018, compared to 4.9 million euro for 16 projects in 2016.

In addition, actions on cultural heritage received significant funding from several EU programmes, as foreseen by Article 8 of Decision (EU) 2017/864. The European Year was a horizontal priority of the 2018 Erasmus +programme and Erasmus+ awarded close to 92 million euro to 965 cooperation and mobility projects dealing with cultural heritage.

An estimated amount of 6 billion euro was initially made available for cultural heritage in the 2014-2020 period under the Cohesion Funds. Updated data on the ERDF investment in cultural heritage actions is given on the cohesion data platform 21 . In 2018 and 2019, Horizon 2020 devoted up to 100 million euro to research projects on cultural heritage. EU funding for the environment through the LIFE programme, focusing on Natura 2000 sites, also played an important role during the European Year, as did programmes on cultural tourism 22   23 and citizenship via the Europe for Citizens programme.

The Common Agricultural Policy through its European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) also supported many initiatives related to rural cultural heritage.

Finally, in 2018, the Commission continued its political and funding support to Europeana, the pan-European online cultural platform.

To complement these funding efforts, the Commission ran long-term projects and policy initiatives around ten themes (“ten European initiatives”). They were implemented in collaboration with the Council of Europe, UNESCO, and other partners and stakeholder organisations.

3.4.Transnational initiatives

The European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 saw the development of numerous cross-border European initiatives initiated by stakeholders and national coordinators.

Examples include the #Ode2JoyChallenge 24 , organised by Europa Nostra (25 countries); “Work It Out 25 ” , by the European Route of Industrial Heritage whereby 3 000 young people danced across Europe simultaneously in 10 countries – and “The Torch Initiative 26 ,” coordinated by the Future of Religious Heritage, which gathered personal memories and stories of people relating to religious heritage.

Finally, two examples of initiatives led by Member States that spread through Europe are “Rendez-vous aux Jardins 27 ,” by the French Ministry of Culture (16 countries); as well as the “Ringing the Bells 28 ” launched by the German Cultural Heritage Committee (800 bells in 25 countries rang simultaneously on the International Day of Peace on 21 September 2018).

3.5.Global outreach of the European Year 2018

The European Year had a global outreach. The Western Balkans countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia), as well as Georgia, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland were associated to the Year.

The European Year also supported capacity building for the heritage sector worldwide 29 .

EU Delegations around the world contributed to raising the international profile of the Year through different activities.


In addition to a series of events across Europe and beyond, the European Year led to numerous deliverables and policy outcomes.

4.1.Engagement for cultural heritage

The European Year initiated a range of initiatives to engage both younger and older generations, professionals, and local communities with cultural heritage and its European dimension. The deliverables included:

-30 million people took part in the 60 000 events of the special edition of the European Heritage Days, which was dedicated to the European Year 30 ;

-Europeana implemented numerous outreach activities to support the digital accessibility of heritage resources;

-a special prize as part of the European Commission Access City Awards 2019 31 , which was awarded the cities of Vilborg (Denmark) and Monteverde (Italy) for improving accessibility to persons with disabilities;

-The European Commission's Joint Research Centre developed novel tools to foster citizens’ engagement in cultural heritage: the online platform ‘Story Maps’ 32 (interactive and easily accessible information about EU-led cultural heritage initiatives in Europe), and ‘Cultural gems’ 33 web app (to share and expand knowledge on cultural venues in European cities);

-“Cultural Heritage” was the 2018 priority theme in eTwinning, the community for teachers and schools in Europe. The e-Twinning book "Europe’s cultural heritage through eTwinning" 34 offered examples of projects and activities; a final Conference gathered 600 participants;

-a Toolkit and an online game in all EU languages supported teachers of any subject or discipline in bringing cultural heritage into the classrooms 35 ;

-15,000 young Europeans discovered Europe's cultural heritage through the pilot initiative DiscoverEU;

-Young people volunteered for heritage related projects through the European Solidarity Corps.

4.2.Sustainability of cultural heritage

During 2018, the European Commission and partner organisations implemented a range of actions to integrate cultural heritage into environmental, architectural and planning policies. The deliverables included:

-The Leeuwarden Declaration 36 on the adaptive re-use of built heritage;

-A catalogue of best practices in the use of investments from the European Regional Development Fund, including the Interreg programmes, to better protect, re-use, enhance and promote cultural heritage 37 ;

-The report 38 on the connections between heritage and the Natura 2000 39   network 40 ;

-Policy recommendations 41 for sustainable cultural tourism along with a new definition of sustainable cultural tourism;

-18 European Destinations of Excellence 42 were awarded an EDEN prize for developing a specific tourism offer based on their local tangible cultural assets 43 ;

-The "World Heritage Journeys in the EU" in cooperation with UNESCO linking 34 iconic and lesser-known UNESCO World Heritage sites in 19 European countries 44 ;

-6 transnational projects with 46 beneficiaries promoted transnational tourism products related to European cultural heritage using CCIs-related technologies 45 ;

-The “Barcelona Declaration” 46 to improve sustainability and competitiveness of the social and cultural impacts of tourism in Europe.

4.3.Protection of cultural heritage

The EYCH 2018 initiated a large-scale mobilisation to improve the way cultural heritage is protected at European level. The deliverables included:

-“European quality principles for EU-funded interventions with potential impact upon cultural heritage”, in cooperation with ICOMOS 47 ;

-Study on Safeguarding Cultural heritage from Natural and Man-Made Disasters - the first mapping of strategies and tools at the EU level contributing to the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and paving the way for improved cooperation among Member States 48 ;

-Research and capacity building projects to improve understanding of disaster risks to cultural heritage 49 and strengthen preventive measures;

-Study on the illicit trade of cultural goods and the use of available technologies to combat it; contributing to a deeper understanding of this criminal activity and how to curb it 50 ;

-A toolkit developed in cooperation with UNESCO for European judiciary and law enforcement officials on fighting the illicit trafficking of cultural property 51 ;

-Assessing the possibility to promote the use of Copernicus, the EU Earth Observation Programme, for Cultural Heritage preservation, monitoring and management 52 ;

-Mobilising the cultural heritage and historic preservation sectors for climate action in support of the Paris Agreement on the Climate Heritage Mobilisation. This was organised for the Global Climate Action Summit 2018, in cooperation with ICOMOS 53 .


The European Year 2018 initiated a large-scale effort to foster the emergence of innovative and cutting-edge solutions to the challenges of the cultural heritage sector. The deliverables included:

-The publication ‘Policy Review: Innovation in Cultural Heritage Research’ 54 , the Cordis Results Pack entitled 'Heritage at Risk: EU research and innovation for a more resilient cultural heritage' 55 and the publication 'Innovative solutions for Cultural Heritage' 56 ;

-“Fostering cooperation in the European Union on skills, training and knowledge transfer in cultural heritage professions” - a manual of good practices for cultural and education institutions 57 ;

-The preparation of the new edition of the ‘Cultural and Creative Cities Monitor’ 58 , a benchmarking tool to monitor the performance of ‘Cultural and Creative Cities’ in Europe;

-The joint EU-Council of Europe pilot project ‘STEPS’ 59 , aiming at examining viable models for participatory governance;

-The Joint EU-Council of Europe project “The Faro Way”: enhanced participation in cultural heritage 60 .

-The report of the EU expert group on participatory governance of cultural heritage 61 .


In order to secure the long-term policy impact of the European Year , the European Commission published on 5 December 2018 a European Framework for Action on Cultural Heritage 62 (SWD (2018) 491), which sets out a common direction for heritage-related activities at European level, primarily in EU policies and programmes.

The Framework for Action is organised around four principles, five pillars, and 65 actions.

The four principles of the European Framework for Action on Cultural heritage are a people-centred approach, mainstreaming across different EU policies, evidence-based policy-making and a multi-stakeholder cooperation.

The five areas of action are as follows:

-Cultural heritage for an inclusive Europe: participation and access for all

-Cultural heritage for a sustainable Europe: smart solutions for a cohesive and sustainable future

-Cultural heritage for a resilient Europe: safeguarding endangered heritage

-Cultural heritage for an innovative Europe: mobilising knowledge and research

-Cultural heritage for stronger global partnerships: reinforcing international cooperation.

The Framework also establishes a new Commission’s multi-stakeholder expert group on Cultural Heritage 63 , which will act as a platform for consultation and exchange of best practice for sustainable and participatory cultural heritage policies in Europe.


The European Year was successful in strengthening the European dimension of cultural heritage.

In a Declaration adopted in Bucharest on 16 April 2019, the EU Ministers of Culture recognised 64 that “the success of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 was based on an appropriate multi-stakeholder governance framework, a clear thematic focus, the engagement of different parts of our societies and cross-border cooperation” 65 .

They welcomed the European Framework for Action on Cultural Heritage and expressed support for further EU action in the field, along the lines expressed in the Framework for Action.

The European Parliament was very supportive of the European Year and of further actions at EU level in favour of heritage. While discussing the results of the Year in the Cultural Affairs Committee, its members recognised it to be one of the significant successes of this Commission in terms of both political initiatives and implementation. They praised the integrated management model, the multi-stakeholder cooperation spirit, and called for an ambitious follow-up 66 .


The European Year of Cultural Heritage has had a positive impact on the perception of Europe’s cultural heritage as a powerful resource for Europe. Through highlighting Europe’s cultural heritage on EU and national agendas and a broad mobilisation of actors, the Year contributed to an inter-cultural conversation about what Europe has in common.

Based on the results of the European Year of Cultural Heritage and taking into account the principles identified in the European Framework for Action, the Commission together with the Member States and cultural heritage stakeholders will continue implementing a longer-term vision for the management, safeguarding and enhancement of Europe’s cultural heritage.








     Council of Europe, 2017


     See above, footnote 1



     Decision(EU) 2017/864










     Estimations based on quarterly monitoring reports, including data collected from EU Member States national coordinators, from organisations members of the EYCH stakeholders' committee, and information received from EU institutions.



     The call focused on two themes: reinforcing a sense of belonging to a common European space (12 projects – 41% of total funding) and promoting cultural heritage as a source of inspiration for contemporary artistic creation (17 projects - 59% of total funding).



     Programme for the competitiveness of enterprises and small and medium-sized enterprises


     02 02 77 21 Preparation action Transnational culture-related European Tourism Product







      - Projects: Supporting the creation of a sustainable network of heritage operators through the 'Western Balkans cultural heritage route';

- Building capacities to fight against heritage trafficking, looting and destruction in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen through a joint project with UNESCO,

- and addressing key development objectives in Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asia through the Silk Road Heritage Corridors ( financing support of 3.4 million Euro)  


     booklet with 101 event ideas to take part in the European Heritage Days 2018 -  








     E-book ‘Connecting Cultures, Connected Citizens’ -





     Sustainable Cultural Tourism Open Method of Coordination Working Group recommendations. See  






     Initiated by NECSTouR in cooperation with the European Travel Commission, Europa Nostra, European Cultural Tourism Network with the support of European Heritage Alliance 3.3.




     In line with Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk reduction, target C (Estimate Direct Economic Loss),  


















     CULT committee meeting on 2 April 2019,