This paper drafted by the Commission in 2014 was discussed in Parliamentary Committee on 15th June 2015 and voted, by a large majority, in plenary session of the European Parliament on 7th September 2015.
This paper is important as the EU have, up to now, given little discussion time or resource to culture in their building of European unity.
The paper is promoted by the Culture and Education Committee of MEPs with input from the Transport and Tourism Committee, the Committee of the Regions and from Heritage Alliance 3.3.
a) FRH wrote to the European Commission before publication of the paper, but despite these representations, the original draft contained little reference to religious heritage.
- FRH has since met the principal MEPs concerned
- FRH has discussed the importance of religious heritage with senior civil servants in the Ministry of Education and Culture and stressed the need for the development of an EU policy for the sector
- FRH has met civil servants from the Transport and Tourism ministry and underlined the tourism potential of churches.
As a result, two amendments underlining the importance of religious heritage were adopted by the parliamentary committee and included in the final text.
b) At the same time, following discussion with FRH, the Committee of the Regions (CoR) – the body that has been created to ensure that the EU takes sufficient account of the views of elected regional bodies – recognised, in its plenary session of 16th April 2015, that:
Religious heritage is one of the pillars of European culture and identity. It is the largest “museum” in Europe and covers every corner of the continent.
The CoR’s positive approach should now help places of worships to obtain funding under the regional INTERREG programmes.
The views of Heritage Alliance 3.3 – a Brussels body set up to bring together 35 European cultural bodies and managed by Europa Nostra – were also taken into account.
FRH is a member of this body and worked to ensure that due weight is given to the importance of religious heritage in their recommendations for the final paper.