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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 12 June 2013

Commissioner Vassiliou visits Greece (12-17 June)

Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, will be in Greece from 12-17 June to attend high-level meetings and events related to the programmes and policies under her responsibility. During the visit, she will meet Greece's Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, Government Ministers and President Karolos Papoulias. Among the issues likely to be discussed is this week's announcement about the future of the state broadcaster and its possible impact on cultural diversity and media pluralism. The main focus of the Commissioner's visit will be the ceremony to honour the laureates of the 2013 European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards (see IP/13/279 and background). The Commissioner will present the awards with Plácido Domingo, the world-famous opera star and President of cultural heritage body Europa Nostra.

The Commissioner's visit to Greece starts on Wednesday 12 June at the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP) in Thessaloniki, where she will address a conference on overcoming the skills mismatch through work-based learning and apprenticeships. A mismatch in the skills and competences acquired by young people in schools and universities has been identified as one of the causes of high youth unemployment, which currently stands at over 60% in Greece.

On Friday 14 June, the Commissioner will be in Athens to hold meetings with Constantinos Arvanitopoulos and Theodoros Papatheodorou, the Minister and Deputy Minister for Education, Religious Affairs, Culture and Sports. She will update them on the latest state of play in the negotiations on Erasmus for All, the new EU programme for education, training, youth and sport, and discuss the priorities of the future Greek Presidency of the EU (1 January-30 June 2014) in the area of her portfolio. The Commissioner will also meet Constantinos Tzavaras, Alternate Minister responsible for Culture, to discuss progress on Creative Europe, the new EU programme for the cultural and creative sectors.

Later the same day (20:00), the Commissioner will take part in a plaque-unveiling ceremony at the restored Averoff Building, home of the National Technical University's School of Architecture. The building won a Grand Prix in the 2012 European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra Awards. The event is followed by a public lecture by the renowned Italian architect Professor Andreas Bruno entitled 'Keeping the memory - why and for whom to preserve?

On Saturday 15 June (20:00), Commissioner Vassiliou and Plácido Domingo will give readings from classical Greek works at the Pynx, the ancient site of popular assemblies in Athens which is regarded as the cradle of European democracy. They will also visit the National Observatory, a winner in the 2010 European heritage awards.

The Commissioner will hold talks with Prime Minister Samaras on Monday 17 June.

Background

Award ceremony

The ceremony to honour the winners of the 2013 European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards will take place on Sunday 16 June (21:00) at the Odeion of Herodes Atticus, in the presence of Greece's President Karolos Papoulias, Commissioner Vassiliou and Plácido Domingo. The winners of seven 'Grand Prix' and the public choice award will be announced for the first time at the ceremony. The spectacular event will feature performances by leading Greek artists including Mario Frangoulis, Maria Faradouri, Dionysis Savvopoulos and Alkinoos Ioannidis. Plácido Domingo has also invited the 15-year-old Cypriot baritone Yiorgos Ioannou, a star in the making, to premiere Mia Thalassa, a song based on traditional music from the island.

Commissioner Vassiliou and Plácido Domingo will hold a press conference (11:00) ahead of the awards at the New Acropolis Museum. The European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage coincides with the 50th anniversary congress of Europa Nostra in Athens, which will gather 300 heritage experts from across Europe.

Europa Nostra is a pan-European NGO which acts as the voice of cultural heritage. It represents 250 non-governmental and non-profit organisations from more than 50 European countries, with a combined membership of at least 5 million citizens. It also counts on the support of over 150 associate public authorities and corporations and more than 1 500 individual members. Its vast network of professionals and volunteers are committed to safeguarding Europe’s cultural heritage for present and future generations.

The European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards are supported by the EU Culture Programme, which has invested more than €30 million in co-financing heritage-related projects since 2007, including more than 40 projects in Greece which received a total of € 4.4 million. Other EU programmes also provide support: the European Regional Development Fund has allocated €6 billion for culture in 2007-2013 and €150 million has been made available through EU Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development since 1998.

Cultural heritage brings a significant – and often underrated – contribution to growth and job creation. It represents a significant part of the cultural and creative sectors, which provide jobs for 8 million people in the EU and contribute up to 4.5% of Europe's GDP. Spending on conservation of cultural heritage by public and private bodies is worth an estimated €5 billion a year. Figures published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) show that 40% of worldwide international tourism has a cultural dimension. Cultural heritage is also a key resource for sustainable development and social cohesion.

To find out more

Europa Nostra website

Europe Commission: Culture

Androulla Vassiliou's website and Twitter: @VassiliouEU

Contacts :

Dennis Abbott (+32 2 295 92 58) Twitter: @DennisAbbott

Dina Avraam (+32 2 295 96 67)


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