The Participants, Meeting at the informal meeting of Ministers of the Member States of the European Union in charge of Culture and European Affairs, organized by the French Ministry of Culture and the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, in coordination with the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union and in the presence of the European Commission,

 

  • Expressing their solidarity with France affected by the burning of the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on 15 April 2019 and affirming that this ordeal is shared by all Europeans;
  • Underlining their deep attachment to Europe’s exceptional historical and cultural heritage, the fruit of our shared history and a visible symbol of the permanent links and exchanges between our peoples, artists and artisans;
  • Recalling the importance of protecting and transmitting this heritage which, by occupying a founding place in the creation of a European spirit and a sense of belonging to a common culture, constitutes a part of our European identity;
  • Reaffirming the desire to defend a Union that preserves our cultural heritage, expressed by the leaders of the Member States and the European Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission on the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of the Treaties of Rome on 25 March 2017;
  • Reaffirming the objective of encouraging the preservation and promotion of heritage, encouraging a holistic approach to safeguarding Europe’s heritage and supporting the use of modern technologies and the exchange of good practice between Member States, as stated in the European Framework for Cultural Heritage presented by the Commission on 5 December 2018 and adopted in the Bucharest Declaration of the Ministers for Culture of the EU Member States on 16 April 2019;
  • Recognising the momentum created by the European Year of Cultural Heritage in 2018, through the participation and cooperation of a large number of heritage actors, including civil society organisations, Recalling that one of the strategic objectives of the new European Agenda for Culture, adopted by the Commission on 22 May 2018, is the protection of cultural heritage;
  • Recalling that on 27 November 2018, the Council adopted the Work Plan for Culture 2019-2022, which makes sustainability in the field of cultural heritage one of its main priorities; recognising the existence of professional and scientific networks at European level, such as the European research infrastructure for heritage science E-RIHS;
  • Taking into account that one of the main priorities of the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union is to build on the legacy and momentum generated by the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 in order to ensure its long-term impact for our societies and future generations; Also taking into account all the actions, programmes and documents adopted by the European Union on the protection of cultural heritage; 
  • Recognizing the importance and growing role of digital technologies, as outlined in the Declaration of Cooperation on the Promotion of the Digitisation of Cultural Heritage adopted by EU Member States on 9 April 2019 on the occasion of Digital Day 2019;
  • Stressing the importance of a European response adapted to the threats and challenges facing our cultural heritage;
  • Reaffirming the internationally recognized rules and principles of conservation and restoration, as well as the contributions made by international, governmental, non-governmental and professional organizations, in particular UNESCO and the Council of Europe, to preserve cultural heritage through quality interventions;

With the aim of preserving our common European heritage and better safeguarding the endangered heritage, are determined to:

1. Make rapid progress towards the creation of a European network on heritage competences available in the EU, which will provide advice and support, at the request of the Member State concerned, on identification, protection and/or restoration of the European heritage in danger

  • Participants welcome the wealth and breadth of expertise and knowledge in heritage preservation in the EU, as well as their complementarity; they express the need to better organise this expertise so that Europe is able to meet the challenges it faces in protecting its heritage;
    • They recognise the need for a European pool of knowledge which will enable Member States to provide each other with assistance on request in order to support the safeguarding of Europe’s endangered heritage and facilitate scientific documentation, the conservation and protection of heritage and possible interventions in crisis situations;
    • In this context, they undertake to create a European network for the safeguarding of heritage in order to facilitate the sharing of good practices and facilitate access to skills, to enable a Member State expressing such a request to cope better with situations of particular danger. This network should build on existing structures and expertise and work closely with international reference partners such as UNESCO or the Council of Europe, as well as professional federations and civil society organisations in the above-mentioned field;

 

2. Giving European youth the opportunity to get involved in conservation and restoration efforts

  • The participants recall the importance of the cultural dimension of the European Union and the need to involve young people closely in the safeguarding and transmission of European cultural heritage from one generation to the next in order to contribute to awareness a European identity rooted in this shared heritage and thus avoiding the risk that specific skills and knowledge will be forgotten;
  • They also call for the involvement of European youth in documentation, conservation and restoration projects and, to promote the mobility of young people within the European Union through the full use of existing European instruments, in particular the European Solidarity Corps, the Erasmus+ programme and their successors. The European Solidarity Corps would organise targeted solidarity missions (for example, individual or team volunteering, internships or jobs). The Erasmus+ programme would promote the acquisition of a wide range of vocational skills, craft and technical know-how in the field of heritage through mobility projects and cross-border partnerships between training and vocational education institutions, as well as between higher education institutions.

3. Mobilize existing financial resources for issues related to safeguarding endangered heritage

  • The participants note the great diversity of the existing resources for the financing of the safeguarding of the heritage, whether they come from national, regional and local public funding, private generosity, joint work with reference institutions on the financing of heritage restoration projects, or the mobilisation of relevant European programmes and funding such as the ERDF, the Creative Europe programme, the Horizon 2020 programme, the Urban Agenda for the EU and the financing and expertise of the European Investment Bank.
  • The participants agreed, without prejudice to national and European budgetary procedures, To deepen their thinking on ways to facilitate the mobilisation of EU programmes and funding and to ensure that they can play their full role in safeguarding the heritage at risk.
  • They call for heritage conservation issues to be taken into account in relevant EU policies and invite stakeholders to intensify dialogue, including at regional and national levels, to foster greater collaboration.