Cultural Heritage in the European Union: An Outsider’s Perspective

Claudia S. Quiñones Vilá


Cultural heritage protection has risen to the forefront of EU politics and policies in recent years, as a response to its intrinsic value and social benefits. Nonetheless, each Member State has its own legal definitions and approaches to cultural heritage protection, corresponding to their respective historical, social, political, and economic contexts. The principle of subsidiarity also entails a substantial amount of delegation, which means that bureaucratic obstacles are added to functional ones (lack of funds, geographical divides, etc.), which can inhibit the free exchange of information and communication. Accordingly, heritage protection is uneven across the EU not only due to varying conceptions  of what constitutes heritage, but also as to who is considered an appropriate caretaker or stakeholder, and to what extent they should be involved. The present article provides an overview of the ongoing challenges to cultural heritage preservation and presents recommendations for improvement, from a non-EU citizen’s perspective. It focuses on two countries – the UK and Italy – as practical examples, given their wealth of cultural heritage but different approaches to protecting and managing the same. By investigating the results of these approaches from a critical and outside perspective, it is possible to glean what the underlying problems are and how they should be addressed for greater effectiveness.

Słowa kluczowe: cultural heritage, public policy, European Union, Italy, United Kingdom, private stakeholders, cultural property, diversity, cultural property legislation

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