“The ideals, principles and values embedded in the European cultural heritage constitute a shared source of remembrance, understanding, identity, dialogue, cohesion and creativity for Europe. (…) The European Year of Cultural Heritage will offer opportunities for European citizens to better understand the present through a richer and shared interpretation of the past.”

From: Proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and the Council on a European Year of Cultural Heritage, published by the European Commission on the 30th of August 2016 in Brussels

 

These words come from the historical proposal made by the European Commission to the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union on the 30th of August of this year to designate 2018 as the European Year of Cultural Heritage (EYCH).  The Proposal is expected to be adopted by the Council and the European Parliament by the end of this year.

Cultural heritage is a crucial component of our common history and identity, both on a national level and on a European level, as Europe is first and foremost an area with strong cultural ties that binds its people together. This is especially important as Europe is finding itself in a period of great crisis at the moment.

The European Historic Houses Association therefore warm-heartily welcomes this proposal made by the European Commission and we are already working hard to make this year a success, as it provides us with a unique opportunity to showcase the importance of cultural heritage in general and the role of privately owned historic houses herein specifically and this opportunity will not present itself again for many decades to come.

We are very much aware of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we realise that the time to act is right now. Our agenda for this year will mainly consist of two parts, the first being to make an inventory of, coordinate and publicise all the events which our national member organisations will be organising in the light of this year. At our last General Assembly, held in Brussels on the 6th of October of this year, a working group consisting of five of our members has been established to help us with this. A first initiative in this field is that a questionnaire is being made at the moment to be send to our member organisations.

On the other hand, we will be organising our own activities on a European level. To this end, several ideas have already been developed and several meetings have already been held with partner organisations to cooperate and to capitalise on this unique opportunity together.

A special reference should be made in this regard to the meeting of the European Heritage Alliance 3.3 – an informal European sectoral platform composed of 37 European or international networks and organisations active in the wider field of cultural heritage – held in Leipzig last week. During this meeting, a lot of ideas and possible activities for the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 have been discussed and if one thing became clear during this meeting it is that all the organisations present underlined the importance of this year and declared themselves motivated to make it to a huge success.

To close off, we call on everyone to contribute to and enjoy the European Year of Cultural Heritage. The timing of this year could not have been better, as a lot of cultural heritage is being endangered at the moment and at the same time we need our cultural heritage and common history more than ever to define who we are as Europeans. In the near future you will be hearing much more from us about our more concrete ideas and activities that will be organised for this year.

 

Annex

Commission Proposal for a decision of the Parliament and Council on a European Year of Cultural Heritage  (Published by the European Commission)