European Portal of National Heritage Organisations

Agenda 2000

The Syndicate Group on Agenda 2000 was led by Ronnie Hall, European Commission DG XVI (Regional Policies). The session was chaired by John Young, Head of Land Agency and Agriculture, the National Trust, and the Rapporteur was Johan Carel Bierens de Haan, Deputy Director, Gelderland Trust for Historic Houses, The Netherlands.
Ronnie Hall outlined the Agenda 2000 proposals for the reform of the Structural Funds for 2000-2006. He explained that Structural Policies which aimed to redress the economic imbalance between the different Member States of the European Union had been in place since the mid-1980s. The current funding to support these polices was due to end in 1999, continued Ronnie Hall, and in the Agenda 2000 document, published in July 1997, the Commission outlined its proposals for continuation of funding.
The proposal was to reduce the current seven Objectives to three: Objective 1 for the most under-developed areas in the European Community; Objective 2 for areas effected by social economic restructuring; and Objective 3 for adapting systems of education, training and employment. The current thirteen Community Initiatives, he continued, would be reduced to three: one for rural development, another for cross-border co-operation and a third for training and employment.
Participants discussed the implications that this would have for the population of the European Union, as there would be a reduction in the areas which are eligible for funding after 1999. Ronnie Hall explained that there would be transitional arrangements in place so that funding could be phased out gradually.
Participants from Central and Eastern European countries were interested to learn from Ronnie Hall about the new fund which would be used for infrastructure projects in the accession countries, particularly in the area of transport and the environment. It was pointed out that this was likely to benefit both Member States and Accession countries, not only as exports in both directions increased, but since all countries were working to fulfil the same objectives, albeit in very different ways, the preservation of the cultural heritage which was common across Europe could only be beneficial to all.
It was agreed that the Structural Funds should not be seen as just a source of money, rather the wider benefits of projects should be taken into account and the money should support work of international relevance which could not otherwise be achieved. Further discussion highlighted the importance of working together across the Member States, not only to develop joint projects, but also to exchange experience and know-how on how to access European funding. It was pointed out that the European Network of National Heritage Organisations would be a very useful instrument in achieving this. In the longer term, it was suggested that through ENNHO, heritage organisations could come together to present a collective European view of policies to the European Institutions.