European Portal of National Heritage Organisations

European Cultural Heritage Policy

Roy Perry, MEP and Member of the European Parliament Committee for Culture, Youth, Education & Media, spoke on the European Parliament’s priorities for European Cultural Heritage. He focused on the ways in which support for cultural heritage projects could be accessed and stressed that much more could be achieved through working together in partnership than through working alone.
The main role for the Parliament in this context, explained Roy Perry, was in its capacity as the European Union’s budgetary Authority. It did not decide on individual projects, rather it established the amounts of money and set the parameters for policies and this, Roy Perry advised, can be influenced. The European Union spent 0.4% on cultural activities which Roy Perry felt was not enough, although he considered it unrealistic to think that there would ever be enough money to undertake all the cultural heritage work one might wish to. He talked about the problem of reconciling conflicting demands, such as jobs, housing and the research and technological development which would allow society to move forward into the 21st Century. There would always be areas of Europe, suggested Roy Perry, which need support to develop their basic infrastructure.
Roy Perry advised that the key to accessing European funding for cultural activities was firstly to develop a worthwhile project which was of European importance and then to seek funding. To seek a funding opportunity first then to try to develop a project which meets the criteria in order to access funding was not the approach for successful funding.
He spoke of project packaging and the “triggers” or key words which would unlock the funding sources. Economic development had to be a key objective to a funding proposal: culture, for example, promotes tourism and improves the quality of life of an area which is itself an economic generator. The most important objective, according to Roy Perry, was employment and this is where cultural heritage could be very important as it had potential for the creation of real jobs.
There were two main issues currently facing Europe, considered Roy Perry, enlargement and the Single Currency. He said the main aim of the European Union Institutions was to see that the applicant countries join the Union as quickly and as practically as possible. He spoke of the enormous demands on Central and Eastern European communities and appealed to participants from these countries to fight, together with Western European countries, to ensure that cultural heritage received a significant share of the available resources.
Roy Perry recognised that there was a great deal of work still to be done and suggested that it was good to learn from each other. He reminded participants that although the countries of Central and Eastern Europe could learn much from the Western European countries, they also had a lot of experience which might benefit Western Europe.