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Brussels, 19 May 2011

Agreement reached on European Heritage Label

European Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou has welcomed an agreement by EU Culture Ministers to launch a "European Heritage Label", which will highlight sites that celebrate the history and development of the European Union. The first sites to receive the new Label will be announced in 2013.

Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, said: "The European Heritage Label will encourage more people, especially the young, to think about the European dimension of our shared history. I am sure that it will also be good for tourism and the economy."

In 2013-14, Member States will be able to nominate four sites to receive the award. Independent experts will assess the nominations and select which should be designated with the Label. From 2015, selection will take place every two years. Member States will be able to nominate up to two sites each time and the experts will select a maximum of one site in each country. Participation in the scheme is voluntary.

The Label will complement existing initiatives such as the UNESCO World Heritage List. It will be awarded to sites on the basis of their European symbolic value and educational work rather than on their architectural qualities or beauty.

The European Commission unveiled its proposal for the European Heritage Label in March last year (IP/10/250) and the European Parliament and Council have finalised the criteria. Following today's agreement, a formal decision establishing the Label should be adopted by the Council in July and by the Parliament in the autumn. Preparatory work to set up the Label will be carried out in the next 18 months and the first selection procedure will take place in 2013.

The Commission's proposal for the Label built on a 2006 intergovernmental initiative by French Minister of Culture Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres. This involved 18 Member States, who later sought to expand it into an EU scheme with clearer objectives and criteria. "As a fully-fledged EU initiative, the European Heritage Label will have greater credibility, visibility and prestige," commented Commissioner Vassiliou.

The 68 sites which have received the Label under the previous scheme will be able to apply for the new EU Label. They include the home of EU founding father Robert Schuman in Scy-Chazelles, France, and the Gdansk Shipyards in Poland, birthplace of the independent trade union Solidarność which helped trigger the events that finally united the continent after the Cold War.

For more information:

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