At the 19 May 2011 meeting in Brussels, EU culture ministers reached a political agreement on raising the European Heritage Label to an EU level. Minister of State for Culture of the Ministry of National Resources, Géza Szőcs called the decision the common success of the Spanish–Belgian–Hungarian Presidency Trio.
“The adoption of the political agreement is also an outstanding result from the perspective of the Hungarian Presidency’s work. I am glad that we have managed to draft a compromise text, which is equally acceptable for the Council, the European Commission and the European Parliament,” Géza Szőcs pointed out at the follow-up press conference.
Back in 2006, France proposed to establish the European Heritage Label and a list of awarded sites, on the model of UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage List. So far, this has existed as part of inter-governmental cooperation, but now it may rise to an EU level.
Strengthening cross-cultural dialogue
At the press conference, Mr Szőcs stressed that the label will contribute to the increase in the value and reputation of sites, which have played an important role in Europe’s history and culture, such as the establishment of the European Union. The Minister of State underlined that the initiative is meant to make European citizens, especially the youth, more familiar with the cultural heritage, which is common to Europe, if diverse in each member state. Mr Szőcs added that a general objective of the label is, “To foster European citizens’ sense of belonging to the European Union through history and common heritage, and to stimulate cross-cultural dialogue.”
The Minister of State said that if the proposal is approved unchanged by the European Parliament’s next plenary meeting, it can soon receive a final and formal adoption and the label can rise to an EU level. At the press conference, EU Commissioner for Culture, Androulla Vassiliou appreciated the Hungarian Presidency’s role in achieving the agreement and stressed that, “The label adds an important quality and prestige to Europe’s cultural values.”
Culture’s contribution to the Europe 2020 Strategy
During the meeting, the ministers approved the Council’s conclusions on the contribution of culture to the implementation of the Europe 2020 Strategy. The document presents some ways for culture to enhance intelligent, sustainable and inclusive growth in the EU. Géza Szőcs stressed at the press conference, that the aim is to encourage leaders of other policy fields to accept this role of culture. “We are convinced that the cultural sector will help Europe recover from the current crisis,” he said.
Supporting Mr Szőcs’s statements, Androulla Vassiliou told the press conference that, “Culture can be a key means to creating European prosperity”.
Mobility of artists
The Council adopted its conclusions on the establishment of mobility information services for artists and culture professionals. In the keynote debate, “We were also seeking ways to improve the cooperation between Member States’ cultural, and other competent authorities more efficiently, as we often face administrative and regulatory difficulties in connection with the mobility of artists,” the Minister of State mentioned at the press conference.
Mr Szőcs thought cooperation should mainly focus on taxation, social security, visa and intellectual property, because these issues, “Fall outside the scope of responsibility of cultural authorities.” He suggested on creating a multi-language website, to provide all practical information for artists who are working abroad.
Mons and Pilsen as European Capitals of Culture in 2015
The ministers also decided that the title of European Capital of Culture 2015 will be shared by Pilsen, Czech Republic, and Mons, Belgium, which was appointed earlier.
At the end of the meeting, the Council listened to an account of the report on the digitisation of European Cultural Heritage. Subsequently, the Hungarian Presidency presented the implementation of the Council’s Work Plan for Culture 2011–2014, and the informal meeting of cultural ministers held on 28 March, in Gödöllő. Finally, the upcoming Polish Presidency outlined its programme to the ministers.
The main issues of the meeting of the Education, Youth and Culture Council are the Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a European Union action for the European Heritage Label, the contribution of culture to the implementation of the Europe 2020 Strategy and the structured dialogue on youth.
Location: Justus Lipsius
Address: Belgium Brussels, Wetstraat, 175
The main issues of the meeting of the Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council are:
- Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a European Union action for the European Heritage Label
- The European Capital of Culture event for the year 2015
- The contribution of culture to the implementation of the Europe 2020 Strategy
- Mobility information services for artists and for culture professionals
- New and effective forms of participation of all young people in democratic life in Europe
- Structured dialogue with young people on youth employment
- Voluntary activities of young people and their contribution to the development of local communities
- Prevention of early school leaving
- Prevention policies to combat early school leaving aimed at the children with the socio-economically disadvantaged background, including Roma