Half way through the European Year of Cultural Heritage (EYCH) IFLA attended the high-level conference on Europe’s shared history and values. The conference took place at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, on 26 June 2018.

The European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 has been an opportunity to not only take stock of Europe’s shared history, but as well reflect on these for the future. Cultural heritage, its role and place in society, as well as the way it is perceived and interpreted, were discussed through the conference.

The EYCH has allowed EU citizens from all across the region to gain a broader understanding of our shared cultural heritage and European identity. The conference allowed participants to rediscover this shared cultural identity, looking forward in an optimistic way to the future. During the conference ministers of culture, artists, cultural institutions and members of the European Parliament presented their work on cultural heritage and Europeanness.

Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission opened the conference stating that “only by promoting and respecting our culture, can we respect our self”. This was followed up by Petra Kammerevert, Chair of the Committee on Culture and Education of the European Parliament, whom in her introductory remark highlighted that: “culture is where diversity leads to unity […] our cultural heritage must not just be preserved to keep our world more beautiful, but as for a compass to guide us in the future”.

44 high-level speakers were invited to participate in three panel debates. Topics such as Cultural Heritage and Europeanness, Preserving and Promoting Cultural Heritage and Innovation and Economic Potential of Cultural Heritage were discussed with several presenters underlining the role and importance of education and exchange of young people when preserving and promoting cultural heritage across Europe.

Synergies, partnerships and collaborations has always been a priority for IFLA. Through these alliances IFLA aims to encourage the safeguarding and respect for cultural heritage especially by raising awareness and strengthen cooperation and participation in cultural heritage activities. As France Desmarais, Director of Programmes and Development, ICOM stated in her presentation “By protecting our heritage, we are protecting our changes for a bright future, at home and abroad”

Cultural heritage is a common asset and responsibility. The European Parliament’s Research Service has up to the conference published a briefing on cultural heritage in EU policies. In this briefing cultural heritage digitisation, digital preservation and access is highlighted as one of the main action points in EU policies.

Digital libraries and archives offers an access point to Europe’s cultural heritage. IFLA works to employ the fullest potential of digital technology in partnership with users by enabling seamless and open access to all types of information. These should be without limits to format or geography, and enhance the ability of libraries, archives and museums to collaborate among themselves and with others to offer the broadest and most complete service possible.  

The EYCH is a time for action, together. Libraries across Europe are showing political leaders and the general public how they protect, preserve and celebrate our shared cultural heritage. Your library can join in – to find out how, read the IFLA briefing on opportunities for libraries during the European Year of Cultural Heritage here.

high-level conference Cultural Heritage in Europe: linking past and future