Heritage sites across Europe – buildings, monuments, urban
and regional landscapes of historical or cultural significance –
are under growing threat. Their upkeep is hit hard by budget cuts
as a result of the recent financial crisis, and western Europe is
no exception to this trend. Yet conserving these sites can have
economic and social spin-offs, helping to create tourism opportunities,
re-generate communities and connect new generations with their history
However, this will need long-term planning and integrated
strategies – which take into account the potential benefits to society
and the local economy as well as the costs of conserving the sites.
States should ratify and implement the Faro Convention, the Council
of Europe treaty which sets out sound principles and guidance in this
field. National surveys can help to identify priority projects and
ensure resources end up where they are needed most, boosted by tax
breaks, soft loans and other incentives if necessary. Civil society,
schools, universities and museums should be involved more in such
projects, and craft and conservation skills should be nurtured.
Finally, there should be enhanced co-operation and greater
coherency of action between the Council of Europe, the European
Union and UNESCO, with a view to defining regional strategies, strengthening transnational
co-operation and developing specific pilot projects which reflect
European policy aims.