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Culture and Creativity

Cultural heritage

Discover what the Commission is doing to support Member States and stakeholders to safeguard Europe’s cultural heritage.

Europe’s cultural heritage is a rich and diverse mosaic of cultural and creative expressions, an inheritance from previous generations of Europeans and a legacy for those to come.

It includes natural, built and archaeological sites, museums, monuments, artworks, historic cities, literary, musical and audiovisual works, and the knowledge, practices and traditions of European citizens.

Cultural heritage enriches the individual lives of citizens, is a driving force for the cultural and creative sectors, and plays a role in creating and enhancing Europe's social capital. It is also an important resource for economic growth, employment and social cohesion, offering the potential to revitalise urban and rural areas and promote sustainable tourism.

The role and actions of the EU

While policy in this area is primarily the responsibility of Member States, regional and local authorities, the EU is committed to safeguarding and enhancing Europe's cultural heritage through a number of policies and programmes.

Europe’s cultural heritage is supported by a range of EU policies, programmes and funding, notably the Creative Europe programme. EU policies in other areas that take increasing account of heritage span from research, innovation, education, environment, climate change and regional policies to digital policies. Consequently, funding for cultural heritage is available under Horizon 2020, Erasmus+, Europe for Citizens and European Structural and Investment Funds.

EU Member States pursue policy collaboration on cultural heritage through the Council of Ministers for Education, Youth, Culture & Sport, and through the Open Method of Coordination. Running since 2019, the Commission expert group on cultural heritage advises on how to implement EU policies for cultural heritage. It involves Member States, associated countries, European cultural heritage networks, civil society organisations and international organisations, as well as EU institutions.

European Framework for Action on Cultural Heritage

One of the most important features at EU level is the European Framework for Action on Cultural Heritage (2018), which reflects the common set-up for heritage-related activities at European level. It builds on the efforts of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018, to capture and scale-up its success to ensure a lasting impact. The Framework establishes a set of four principles and five main areas of continued action for Europe’s cultural heritage:

4 key principles
  • Holistic
  • Mainstreaming/integrated
  • Evidence-based policy making
  • Multi-stakeholder
5 areas of continued action
  • an inclusive Europe: participation and access for all
  • a sustainable Europe: smart solutions for a cohesive and sustainable future
  • a resilient Europe: safeguarding endangered heritage
  • an innovative Europe: mobilising knowledge and research
  • a stronger global partnership: reinforcing international cooperation