EU finds political agreement to launch ‘European Heritage’ label (but UK declines to take part) - La Treizième Étoile: A blog on EU politics
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EU finds political agreement to launch ‘European Heritage’ label (but UK declines to take part)

Thursday, 26 May 2011
Last week (19th May) in a meeting of the Education, Youth, Culture and Sport ministers of the European Council, a political agreement was reached on launching a 'European Heritage' label that will mark sites which have an important place in European history and EU integration.

Modelled on the United Nations’ World Heritage program (UNESCO), it is hoped the label will foster a common identity and strengthen European citizens' sense of belonging to the European Union as it will be awarded to historical sites across Europe that "symbolise European integration, ideals and history".

So it perhaps therefore should come as little surprise to learn the UK has voiced displeasure and chosen to abstain from the scheme. As reports EurActiv, the UK believes its current UNESCO world heritage sites – which in the South West includes the East-Devon – Dorset coastline, the Cornish Mining landscape and the City of Bath - are sufficient and no further EU-labelled sites are needed. It will therefore propose no UK sites for future consideration.

Each member state will be able to nominate up to two sites every other year, and a group of experts will choose a maximum of one site per country to receive the label. The European Heritage Label has already been awarded to 68 places from 18 member states including the Acropolis in Athens (Greece), the shipyards of Gdansk (Poland) and the French home of Robert Schuman, a founding father of the European Union.

At an allocated cost of €650,000 to implement the first round of awarding new labels, Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner of Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, has previously said the initiative had a price that was "small compared to the potential educational and tourist benefits".

Following the political agreement, a formal decision establishing the label should be adopted by the full European Council in July and by MEPs in an autumn session of the European Parliament. On the proviso that these votes will be passed, preparatory work to set up the label will be carried out in the next 18 months with a view to the first selection procedure taking place in 2013.

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