The European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018: A turning point for the citizens’ movement supporting cultural heritage in Europe


The last years have paved the way for the significant development and better structuring of a pan-European movement of civil society supporting cultural heritage. The designation of 2018 as the European Year of Cultural Heritage – the only thematic year of the Juncker Commission – marked a turning point for this ever-growing movement. Firstly, because it represented a true milestone for the public recognition of cultural heritage as a unique resource for Europe. Secondly, because it saw an unprecedented Europe-wide and bottom-up mobilisation of heritage stakeholders. And thirdly, as it provided a playing field to put collective knowledge into practice, through effective multi-stakeholder and cross-sectoral approaches. This article highlights the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 as a huge opportunity for civil society action in the heritage field, and conversely, civil society action as a driver for heritage policy development in Europe. It also identifies three main challenges to be addressed in the future in order to sustain the legacy of the European Year. Firstly, to continue raising awareness and reaching out to citizens and stakeholders at the local level. Secondly, to find an adequate formula for a permanent cooperation and co-ordination on cultural heritage policies at EU level. And thirdly, to sustain and increase funding for cultural heritage in future EU programmes.


Cultural heritage; civil society; civil society organisations; advocacy; cultural heritage policy; EU policy

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