European Heritage Days (EHDs)
The European Heritage Days are the most widely celebrated participatory cultural event shared by the citizens of Europe. The Council of Europe launched the initiative in 1985, and in 1999 was joined by the European Union to create the joint action, which has continued up to the present day. Conceivably, the Programme, which can boast up to 20 million visitors every year, generates the greatest value, Euro for Euro, of any “European” cultural project.
Held in September each year, EHDs events – often called Heritage Open Days - take place in the 50 countries party to the European Cultural Convention. During this time, doors are opened to numerous monuments and sites, allowing Europe’s citizens to enjoy free visits and learn about their shared cultural heritage and encouraging them to become actively involved in the safeguard and enhancement of this heritage for present and future generations.
The aims of the European Heritage Days are to:
- raise the awareness of European citizens to the richness and cultural diversity of Europe;
- create a climate in which the appreciation of the rich mosaic of European cultures is stimulated;
- counter racism and xenophobia and encourage greater tolerance in Europe and beyond the national borders;
- inform the public and the political authorities about the need to protect cultural heritage against new threats;
- invite Europe to respond to the social, political and economic challenges it faces.
European Heritage Days Portal
In creating the EHDs web-based Communications Portal, the two Organisations are providing all Europeans with an equal opportunity to give visibility to their specific heritage and to celebrate it together as an expression of a common European Heritage. The Portal opens out and flattens access to our heritage. The most rural and resource-limited event will have exactly the same access to the Portal and network tools as that enjoyed by the most richly endowed heritage site. But it is not just heritage sites that will benefit from the Portal; it is also the thousands of local communities and volunteers in the Programme who will have greater visibility. Local organisers with modest resources will be able to reach European audiences for their events and attract tourists to undiscovered destinations.
The Portal has a content management system that is very easy to understand, fast to use and rich in the options it provides for publication of individual events. It can also help create cross-frontier links between events, facilitating new partnerships and cooperation activities. Another feature enables organisers to draw on services and resources in the vicinity and build around each event an individual cultural route for download by tourists visiting the Portal.
Using mapping technology which features the map of Europe, the visitor will have the opportunity to see, for the first time, all the events of the EHDs featured together as stars that twinkle across the Continent. As soon as an event is added, it shines out of a locality as a star, which beckons and invites discovery.
The Council of Europe is the continent’s leading human rights organisation. It includes 47 member states, 28 of which are members of the European Union. All Council of Europe member states have signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights, a treaty designed to protect human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
The Council of Europe advocates freedom of expression and of the media, freedom of assembly, equality, and the protection of minorities. It has launched campaigns on issues such as child protection, online hate speech, and the rights of the Roma, Europe’s largest minority. The Council of Europe helps member states fight corruption and terrorism and undertake necessary judicial reforms. Its group of constitutional experts, known as the Venice Commission, offers legal advice to countries throughout the world.
The Council of Europe promotes human rights through international conventions, such as the Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence and the Convention on Cybercrime. It monitors member states’ progress in these areas and makes recommendations through independent expert monitoring bodies. All Council of Europe member states have abolished the death penalty.
The European Commission is the EU's executive body and represents the interests of Europe as a whole (as opposed to the interests of individual countries). The term 'Commission' refers to both the college of commissioners and the institution itself – which has its headquarters in Brussels, Belgium with offices in Luxembourg. The Commission also has offices known as 'representations' in all EU member countries.
The Commission's main roles are to:
- set objectives and priorities for action
- propose legislation to Parliament and Council
- manage and implement EU policies and the budget
- enforce European Law (jointly with the Court of Justice)
- represent the EU outside Europe (negotiating trade agreements between the EU and other countries, etc.).