On Wednesday 31 January 2018, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, and the members of the College of Commissioners will attend the launch of the European Year of Cultural Heritage in Belgium at the invitation of the Mayor of Brussels, Philippe Close. All the competent Belgian authorities will also be in attendance.
The European Year of Cultural Heritage will showcase the wealth and diversity of our cultural heritage, highlighting its role in creating a shared sense of identity and building Europe's future.
This unprecedented visit by the President and the College of Commissioners testifies to the excellent relationship between the European Commission and the City of Brussels and conveys just how much the Commission values and appreciates the EU's de facto capital and its inhabitants, who have provided the institution with a home for over 60 years (consult the programme and practical information for journalists who wish to attend the event).
According to President Juncker: ‘The 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage should celebrate our cultural diversity. Throughout the world, Europe is known for the wealth and diversity of its culture and creativity, including its natural and archaeological sites, its museums, monuments and historic cities, its artistic, musical and audiovisual works, its traditions and customs. This year of celebrations will be a wonderful opportunity to encourage everyone, especially young people, to explore Europe's rich cultural diversity and to reflect on how to preserve it for future generations.'
Tibor Navracsics, the Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, said:‘Culture and cultural heritage are the most vivid expression of the strength of European citizens' common identity and values. They should play a crucial role in uniting the EU and making it stronger and more democratic. This is why I am especially pleased to be able to participate, alongside the President of the Commission and the College, in the launch of this year of culture in Brussels, which is a truly European city by virtue of its history and its role in hosting the EU institutions, as well as a creative, avant-garde and cosmopolitan capital unrivalled in Europe.'
The highlight of the launch will be a three-dimensional show entitled ‘Mille Reflets d'Europe' which will take place in the capital's Grand-Place and be attended by President Juncker, Tibor Navracsics, the Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, and the other Commissioners.
According to a very recent Eurobarometer survey, 8 out of 10 Europeans believe that cultural heritage is important not only to them personally, but also to their community, region, country and the EU as a whole. A very large majority take pride in cultural heritage, whether it is located in their own region or country, or in another European country. The survey results in Belgium for these two questions are very close to the European average.
Throughout 2018, thousands of initiatives and events across Europe will allow citizens from all backgrounds to become involved. The aim is to reach out to the widest possible audience, in particular children and young people, local communities and people who are rarely exposed to culture, to promote a common sense of belonging.
In his State of the Union speech of 13 September 2017, President Juncker highlighted the importance of this European Year of Cultural Heritage, which is an opportunity to reflect on the Union's unique achievement: ‘peace within and peace outside of Europe' and ‘prosperity for many if not yet for all'.
The objective this year is to raise awareness of the social and economic significance of Europe's cultural heritage. In the EU, more than 300 000 people are employed directly in the European cultural heritage sector, and 7.8 million jobs are linked indirectly to it, for example in tourism, interpreting and security. With 453 official sites, Europe as a region accounts for almost half of UNESCO's World Heritage List.
This is why, especially at a time when cultural treasures are under threat or are being deliberately destroyed in conflict zones, the Commission considered that cultural heritage deserved a European Year in 2018. The Council and European Parliament Decision designating 2018 as the European Year of Cultural Heritage was adopted on 17 May 2017, based on the Commission's proposal of 30 August 2016.
For more information
Special Eurobarometer on Cultural Heritage and all country factsheets
European Year website (including a list of events for each country)