Newsletter 9/2011 - From Brussels angle
INTERVIEW with Wenceslas de Lobkowicz, Advisor on Inter-cultural Dialogue and Cultural Heritage, Directorate General for Enlargement, European Commission
Regional Cooperation Council to become the heart of regional ownership for cultural rehabilitation
Mr Lobkowicz, what is the European Commission’s role in the
Back in 2003, the Council of Europe and the European Commission decided to launch a joint action regarding rehabilitation of cultural heritage in South East Europe. This was a major tool to implement an important action in the field of cultural heritage in the region. Substantive financial support (1.5 m€) was devoted to this action. The Ljubljana Process was born.
Its achievements were impressive. A common methodology was elaborated to identify, on an agreed basis, 189 priority programmes of which 20 projects in the Western Balkans were considered as consolidated projects. Its objective was to convince the relevant countries to attract partners in order to secure investments to rehabilitate these buildings and sites to give them their social and cultural role. In the Final Declaration of the first Ljubljana Conference in May 2008, the European Commission pledged to contribute to funding of the Ljubljana Process by supporting the rehabilitation of at least one site per country in the Western Balkans. This would be done with a general envelope of up to 10-15 million € from the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA), during the period 2008-2010.
The task of the Ljubljana Process is not to finance these projects, but to convince the relevant countries to mobilise national and international funds. It is by convincing these states to mobilise the necessary funds that the ownership will be transferred to the region.
Regional ownership importance and the continuation of this process were the major conclusions of the Ljubljana Ministerial Conference in November 2009. All interested parties, relevant countries, international organisations and civil society representatives agreed that this acquis should not be lost after 2010 when the joint action would come to an end. The Commission, together with the Council of Europe, received a mandate to elaborate a model involving the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) to enable the transfer of regional ownership.
How do you see the main role of the Task Force on Culture and Society and what is the key to its success?
The Regional Cooperation Council will be the key for the continuation of the Ljubljana Process. At its meeting in Cetinje in April 2009, the Council of Ministers of Culture from South East Europe endorsed the proposal elaborated by the Commission together with the Council of Europe to empower the RCC with this task by creating an appropriate body.. To this extent, the RCC Board agreed to create a Task Force on Culture and Society supported by an international secretariat located in Cetinje, funded by the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA). The Task Force’s main duties will be as follows.
- Firstly, to note the lessons learned over the past seven years. Was our common methodology efficient and should it be further improved in the future?
- Secondly, to work with the countries in this region to convince them to mobilise national and international funding to finance rehabilitation of selected projects. This list should be improved by constant monitoring of work and by adding new sites to show that the Ljubljana Process II is a living process.
- Thirdly, to give better visibility to achievements reached through this Process. It is of the utmost importance that cultural rehabilitation through European support becomes apparent for citizens to prove that enlargement and pre-accession also deals with culture. It will confirm the importance of cultural heritage as a means for reconciliation and contribute to local economic development.
What could the Regional Cooperation Council do to maximize cultural exchange and preservation of cultural heritage in South
The Regional Cooperation Council will streamline the work of the Task Force on Culture and Society. It will be in a privileged position to foster dialogue with the region’s countries. Taking into account their comprehensive objectives, they will be able to illustrate links between cultural heritage and the overall European future for the region. Working together with the Council of Europe and the European Commission will enable the Regional Cooperation Council to integrate culture in the pre-accession phase.
Last but not least, the core objective will be for the RCC to become the heart of the regional ownership for cultural rehabilitation. This can be initiated by international organisations, but in a long run, it can be done by the region only. This will be a major challenge for the RCC. We are confident that, working jointly with us, the RCC will be able to meet this objective.
Currently, adviser on intercultural dialogue and cultural heritage of Directorate General for Enlargement, Wenceslas de Lobkowicz has been working for over 30 years in the European Commission. He occupied different positions within Commission's services: Internal Market, Justice and Home Affairs, and Enlargement, as well as in commissioners' cabinets. He teaches European Law at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques in