The report of the Horizon 2020 Expert Group on Cultural Heritage makes a case for the European Union to promote the innovative use of cultural heritage in support of economic growth, social cohesion and environmental sustainability. Cultural heritage is a shared resource and forms part of the cultural identity of communities and individuals. The expert group argued for engagement of new audiences and continued development of more participative models of interpretation and governance, including through increased involvement of the private sector and civil society.
The group recognised the potential for cultural heritage to encourage participation, integration and cohesion in society. The report notes that cultural heritage has traditionally been identified, maintained and protected by culture professionals, which has resulted in a situation where local communities often have little responsibility for their own assets. Increased participation of citizens in the protection of cultural heritage aligns well with steps towards increasing decentralisation in many policy areas, and may also help alleviate the pressures of dwindling public budgets for heritage protection.
The Council conclusions on participatory governance of cultural heritage (2014/C 463/01) highlight that better involvement in institutional processes could help empower citizens and address the challenge of their increasing political disengagement. The Council conclusions also called on member states to promote long-term heritage policy models that are evidence-based and citizen-driven.