The European Council has approved a series of conclusions that welcome the EU’s conception of cultural heritage in terms of conflicts and crises, enhancing the EU’s focus on peace, security and development.
The conclusions recognise that cultural heritage can have a key role in the promotion of peace, democracy and sustainable development, thus promoting tolerance, cultural and inter-confessional dialogue and mutual understanding. At the same time, cultural heritage can also be instrumentalised as a source or cause of conflicts. The conclusions reached ask for the protection and safeguarding of cultural heritage during periods of conflict and crisis.
The Council emphasises the importance of raising awareness of, and providing protection for, cultural heritage as part of a sensitive approach to conflicts throughout their various phases, and as a basis for a sustainable return to harmony and lasting peace. The protection and safeguarding of cultural heritage can contribute to preventing violent extremism, combating disinformation and generating positive and inclusive dialogue, in addition to contributing to societies’ overall resilience.
The Council also underlines the importance of reinforcing partnerships with relevant international organisations, regional organisations, inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations as appropriate, and calls for the protection and safeguarding of cultural heritage to be incorporated into the Council’s work in all areas of Foreign and Security Policy.
The EU will now incorporate the protection of cultural heritage into all the relevant dimensions of the EU’s diplomatic toolbox.
As the missions and operations of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) can make an important contribution to meeting security challenges in relation to the preservation and protection of cultural heritage, the EU will now develop a mini-concept dedicated to exploring the possibility of developing civil CSDP missions in this field, if required, by means, for example, of potential skill development programmes or training activities.
The EU will also try to incorporate the protection of cultural heritage into all the other areas of the EU’s foreign policy and into the relevant financial instruments, including the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Initiative (NDICI).
Member States, the European External Action Service (EEAS), the Commission and other relevant organisms undertake to improve their cooperation in terms of cultural heritage in order to develop and exchange best practices and experiences.