To increase EU collaboration on culture and citizens’ participation in cultural activities, the European Commission adopted on 22 May 2018 a proposal for a New European Agenda for Culture, accompanied by a Staff working document. The proposed New Agenda explains how the European Commission will support EU Member States in tapping into culture’s potential to foster innovation, creativity, sustainable growth and jobs. Moreover, the New Agenda outlines how to build on the legacy of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018. Finally, it highlights cultural heritage as one of the two horizontal dimensions of the entire EU Agenda for Culture.

The New Agenda has three strategic objectives, focusing on social, economic and external dimensions. The social dimension is about using the power of culture and cultural diversity for social cohesion. Among other objectives, the document emphasises the need to protect and promote Europe's cultural heritage as a shared resource. Under the economic dimension the New Agenda supports jobs and growth in the cultural and creative sectors, by promoting arts and culture in education. The Agenda also calls for boosting relevant skills such as digital, entrepreneurial, traditional and specialised, and encouraging innovation in culture. The external dimension focuses on strengthening international cultural relations, as well as reinforcing cooperation on cultural heritage.  

Building on the legacy of 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage

In the 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage, a lot of activities are taking place at local, regional and national levels across the EU. To make sure these efforts leave a legacy beyond 2018, the New Agenda highlights that the European Commission proposes to support long-term projects around 10 themes (presented in Box 1) under four core objectives: Engagement, Sustainability, Protection, and Innovation.

In addition, the New Agenda mentions that at the end of the 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage the European Commission will present an Action Plan for Cultural Heritage, and asks Member States to draft similar plans at national level and follow up the 10 European themes. Also the New Agenda foresees to incorporate outcomes of the Year into future EU programmes and Cohesion Policy. Finally, the document supports the enforcement of the future EU Regulation on the import of cultural goods through an Action Plan on illicit trade in cultural goods. The establishment of a science policy stakeholder social platform on endangered cultural heritage is also mentioned.  

Box 1: Ten European initiatives for the European Year of Cultural Heritage




  1. Shared heritage: cultural heritage belongs to us all
  1. Heritage at school: children discovering Europe’s most precious treasures      and traditions
  1. Youth for heritage: young people bringing new life to heritage






  1. Heritage in transition: re-imagining industrial, religious and military sites and  landscapes
  1. Tourism and heritage: responsible and sustainable tourism around cultural     heritage






  1. Cherishing heritage: developing quality standards for interventions on cultural heritage
  1. Heritage at risk: fighting against illicit trade in cultural goods and managing          risks for cultural heritage






  1. Heritage-related skills: better education and training for traditional and new        professions
  1. All for heritage: fostering social innovations and people’s and communities’      participation
  1. Science for heritage: research, innovation, science and technology for the          benefit of heritage




Cooperation with Member States

The concrete implementation of the New Agenda through Work Plans will take place at national, regional or local levels. The following topics are suggested to Member States for joint work:

  • Participatory governance on heritage, in collaboration with the Council of Europe;
  • Quality principles for heritage interventions and restoration;
  • Access to finance and innovation capacity in cultural and creative sectors;
  • Scaling up culture and heritage projects supported by EU programmes.

According to the New Agenda the envisaged policy collaboration will be supported in 2019 and 2020 by Creative Europe and other EU programmes funding cultural projects, and from 2021 by the programmes under the EU’s next Multiannual Financial Framework.

The New Agenda is is an important step in the right direction in increasing EU collaboration on culture, but the successful implementation of the envisaged actions will largely depend on strong cooperation with Member States and stakeholders, including civil society and international partners.



Interreg Europe Policy Learning Platform

Environment and Resource Efficiency

Thematic expert: Venelina Varbova

Date: 1 June 2018