In recent years the European Union has shown its desire to support and promote the protection of European cultural heritage (meaning tangible and intangible assets as a whole), placing a strong priority on the sector. Examples of this are the specific Joint Programming Initiative and the European Heritage Label.
However, it must be noted that in the legislative proposal adopted by the European Commission on 30 November 2011, funding for research and innovation projects in the sector is never mentioned.
This decision could have very negative consequences, considering that the foundations of the European cultural heritage preservation support strategy would be undermined, contradicting some of the Commission’s own decisions in this area. The protection of cultural heritage on an EU level must not exclude the scientific community, since this would jeopardise the sustainability of the interventions and investments of monetary and human resources committed up to now.
The Commission has recently stated on more than one occasion that cultural heritage will be covered within the Fifth Societal Challenge (climate action, resource efficiency and raw materials) and the Sixth Societal Challenge (inclusive, innovative and secure societies).
However, relegating the protection of cultural heritage to climatic aspects (based on the connection with the energy efficiency of the thousands of historic buildings in Europe), the nanotechnology, materials and tourism industries and to ICT, seems too simplistic.
Can the Commission therefore answer the following questions:
Does it believe that it could identify a clearer and more strategic role for the sector within the future Horizon 2020 programme, in particular within the pillar dedicated to societal challenges?
How does it think it might fill this gap, recognising the importance of European cultural heritage on a cross‑ and multi‑disciplinary level as part of the different societal challenges contained in the Horizon 2020 legislative proposal?