Europe’s cultural heritage – built and natural has a huge value for Europe’s economy, society and environment. To this end there is a need to develop an EU strategy for cultural and natural heritage a strategy that values heritage as a crucial asset and resource. Such a strategy should be fully integrated within the EU’s key economic priorities as set out in the overall EU strategy for 2020. It should also enable heritage’s contribution to the EU agendas on sustainability, Creative Europe, research and innovation, climate change, energy saving, regional and rural development and territorial cohesion.

“Cultural Heritage Counts for Europe: Towards a European Index for Cultural Heritage” was a two-year project funded by the EU Culture Programme (2007-2013) that aimed to raise greater awareness on the multiple benefits of cultural heritage and present policy recommendations for tapping into heritage’s full potential.

There exist many case studies, European projects, and European, national, regional and local research and reports covering the multiple benefits of cultural heritage in different parts of Europe. In addition, many organisations active in the heritage field have anecdotal case study evidence of ways in which different aspects of cultural heritage deliver social and economic benefits.

However, what appeared to be lacking was a readily accessible, comprehensible and comparative overview of the value and relevance of heritage which would form a credible basis for policy recommendations that reflect an integrated and holistic approach towards the increased importance of heritage in today’s society.

Made up of a consortium of six partners from Belgium, The Netherlands, Poland and the United Kingdom, Cultural Heritage Counts for Europe had the ambition to present solid and persuasive arguments for convincing policy and decision makers on the impact and multiple benefits of investing in European heritage thanks to a mapping of existing evidence-based research at the European, national, regional, local and/or sectoral levels. The aim was also to reach 300 Heritage NGOs and Agencies throughout Europe, 300 universities and educational institutions, public and private corporations from the local to European level, and the wider interested public.

In addition to widely disseminating a number of outcomes, the consortium organised major events to stimulate discussion on the greater importance of this topic and produced and extensively circulated a final publication with the project’s results and recommendations.


Photo credits: (Left to right) Pedro Ribeiro Simões CC BY 2.0 ; ENCATC CC BY 2.0 (images 2-5)

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