Europe also has its heritage label

On April 11, 2024, the European Commission announced the new sites which have obtained the European Heritage Label, bringing the total number of sites labeled “European Heritage” to sixty-seven. The seven winners are the Cistercian Landscapes Connecting Europe (in Austria, Czechia, Germany, Poland and Slovenia), the Monastery of San Jerónimo de Yuste (Cuacos de Yuste, Spain), the Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder Museum (Amsterdam, Netherlands), the Royal Theater of Toone (Brussels, Belgium), the epic Kalevala (Finland), the Romanian Athenaeum (Bucharest, Romania) and the village San't Anna di Stazzema (Tuscany, Italy).

What is the European Heritage Label? This rather little-known distinction highlights sites which stand out for their importance in the evolution of European history and unity. The label was created in 2005 by several member states of the European Union, at the suggestion of France, before being formally established in 2011 and awarded for the first time in 2013.

Every two years, the label is awarded without time limit to sites which “focus on promoting symbolic European values”Who “played an important role in the history and culture of Europe” and that “also offer interesting educational activities, especially for young people”. It can be issued to monuments, natural sites, cultural landscapes, places of memory but also to goods, objects and intangible heritage associated with a place. A wide variety of sites are therefore eligible, as long as they participate in the construction of a common European identity. The label thus complements that of UNESCO World Heritage, which lists cultural or natural properties of exceptional interest for the common heritage of humanity.

Obtaining the designation allows the sites concerned to integrate an informal network of labeled sites and thus gain notoriety on a European scale. However, it does not grant financial aid to the winners, unlike the UNESCO label which allocates them a fund ($5.8 million for 2024 and 2025).

The selection procedure takes place in two stages. It is carried out first at the national level, each EU country being able to propose up to two candidate sites for the label. A jury of experts, placed under the authority of the European Commission, then makes the final selection.

To date, the label has been awarded to five French sites: the abbey of Cluny (Burgundy) and the house of Robert Schuman (Lorraine) in 2014, the European district of Strasbourg (Alsace) in 2015, the former camp of concentration of Natzweiler and its annexed camps (France-Germany) in 2017 and the place of memory at Chambon-sur-Lignon in 2019.

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