09/26/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/27/2023 09:10
The Ministers for Culture of the European Union have approved at the Informal Meeting of Ministers (IMM) for Culture the Cáceres Declaration promoted by the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The document contains the unanimous commitment of the 27 Member States that "culture will henceforth be considered an essential public good and a global public good at the highest political level".
In his speech, the Minister for Culture and Sport, Miquel Iceta, host of the meeting, said that "culture strengthens the European Union". In line with the declaration, the result of the first debate of the IMM, entitled 'Culture as an essential public good, as a global public good', Iceta stated that "we want culture to be given the greatest possible consideration in regional and state policies, as well as in the policies of the European Union". He concluded by insisting that "culture is crucial for building better societies and citizenships and for safeguarding our democracies".
Thus, from Cáceres, a World Heritage City, the Council of the European Union has sealed the common commitment to "work for culture to be a crucial element of policies in favour of peaceful, fair and egalitarian societies. Because culture plays an essential role in the construction of democratic societies and in the personal development of citizens: culture is essential to achieve healthier, fairer, more critical, free, tolerant, inclusive and egalitarian societies", as the declaration states.
The text includes the intention to "work towards the recognition of culture as a new sustainable development goal in itself". In fact, the European Commission has highlighted the important cultural dimension of sustainable development, with a commitment to use it to contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Thus, EU policy action and cooperation in this field focuses on harnessing the power of culture and cultural diversity for social cohesion and well-being through issues already addressed in the EU Roadmap for Culture for the period 2023- 2026. The 'Cáceres Declaration' is therefore a step towards finally including Culture as the 18th Sustainable Development Goal in the post-2030 Agenda.
In this way, the Spanish presidency of the Council of the EU has managed to bring together all the countries of the European Union around a discourse and a strategy to make culture a true state policy, certifying its role as an essential element both for the personal development of a free, critical, tolerant and heterogeneous citizenship in its diversity, and for the economic growth of some countries that continue to be the international benchmark, also with regard to artistic and creative areas. The intention is for Europe to take the lead and lead the world in working to ensure universal access to culture, regardless of geographical, political, linguistic or educational circumstances or the individual's own cultural heritage.
In its wording, the 'Cáceres Declaration' also contains an "unequivocal" condemnation of "Russia's unjustified aggression against Ukraine, its people and its cultural identity".
The second debate during the IMM in Cáceres, which was attended by 29 delegations - those of all the Member States, as well as those of the European Commission and the General Secretariat of the Council of the EU - dealt with the need to promote at European level the sustainable management of cultural heritage, its universal accessibility and its role in structuring the territory. According to the minister, "it offers us a unique opportunity for the adaptation and strengthening of cultural heritage, with a balanced interaction of the social, environmental and economic levels".
In this framework, Spain shared with the delegations the Green Paper on Sustainable Heritage Management, recently published, which addresses the link between heritage, society and sustainable development. As Iceta explained, "it is a living document, that will be improved and updated on an ongoing basis, which incorporates good practices. We are confident that it will be a useful tool for all our heritage managers". In this debate, reference was also made to 'Cultural Landscapes' as spaces of memory that favour the feeling of rootedness in the different territories and reflect the physical basis of their intangible heritage. Spain, for example, has more than 100 cultural landscapes, including several UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The choice of Cáceres as the venue for this IMM has had a double objective. The first is a reflection of the fact that culture is the backbone of the territory, with the capacity to reach all corners. The second is the Spanish government's desire to decentralise and diversify the events planned for the EU Council presidency.
In addition to the meetings and debates scheduled for this meeting, the ministerial delegations from the member states had the opportunity to visit the city of Extremadura. Founded by the Romans, it preserves traces of the various cultures that have populated it over time, with its old quarter being a mixture of Gothic and Renaissance styles, with medieval cobbled streets that hold manifestations of the three cultures: Christian, Muslim and Jewish, as well as fortified houses and palaces. It is surrounded by a 12th century Moorish wall and has around 30 towers. This monumental uniqueness led UNESCO to declare it a World Heritage City in 1986. During their stay, the country delegations also visited the Helga de Alvear Museum of Contemporary Art.
Non official translation