Letter N° 4 - July-November 2012

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A year, already!


I have been Executive Secretary of the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes and Director of the Institute since 1 November 2011. During these intense and fascinating first twelve months, I have met with most of the routes operators and many of their partners and I have seen the great work and cultural cooperation along the routes. But above all, I now feel a part of the Council of Europe’s cultural routes programme and its unique ways of celebrating Europe’s diverse, living cultural heritage.


One of the high points of 2012 was the First Cultural Routes Summer Seminar, where representatives of 22 of our certified routes, 9 new project managers and experts spent a whole week together at the Council of Europe’s Youth Centre, working on all the constitutive dimensions of cultural routes, in sessions organized around the chapters of a draft handbook on cultural routes design and management.

A lot has happened since my last letter, so please forgive the length!

The Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes (EPA)


Since June, three new member states have joined the Enlarged Partial Agreement – Lithuania, Serbia and Andorra. Germany and Monaco have notified the Secretary General that they will become members as from 1 January 2013, and Croatia has announced its entry next June. This will bring the number of member states to 20, close to the target of 23 by the end of the pilot phase of the EPA in December 2013. Several countries have expressed their interest in joining, including Turkey, Romania, Moldova, Switzerland and Armenia.


On 16 October the representatives of the member states unanimously adopted the budget for 2013 and expressed their support for the programme, renewed the following week at the meeting of the Committee of Ministers Rapporteur Group on Culture (GR-C), where the Chair of the Governing Board Elke Atzler presented the programme. The increased budget resulting from new accessions will allow the Institute to develop its activities further.

About the EPA

The Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes seeks to reinforce the potential of Cultural Routes for cultural co-operation, sustainable territorial development and social cohesion, with a particular focus on themes of symbolic importance for European unity, history, culture and values and the discovery of less well-known destinations.

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Events and activities, July to October 2012

I travelled to La Chaise Dieu (Haute-Loire, France) on 6 July, where I delivered the "Council of Europe Cultural Route" diploma to the Route of Casadean Sites and visited the breathtaking Abbey with its magnificent early Gothic architecture, its stunning tapestries and unique 16th-century "Danse macabre".


An international meeting on women's employment in small and medium-sized industries on 17-18 July at the Fondacion El Andalus in Grenada gave me the opportunity to visit the headquarters of the Route of Andalusian Heritage. The permanent and temporary exhibitions at the Foundation introduce arabo-muslim heritage to European visitors of all ages.


My next destination was Trondheim for the Saint Olav Days, for a meeting with the Route of Saint Olav in the framework of the European Project for pilgrimage routes "Per Viam". I visited the offices of the Route and the team as well as the Nidaros pilgrim centre, a historic farmhouse where pilgrims stay before arriving in Trondheim, and attended a midnight service for pilgrims processing to the Cathedral. 200 Saint James pilgrims from Barcelona joined the procession to the cathedral to celebrate Saint Olav and the BBC captured the event on video. (more...

The Colmar Forum, 22-23 November

The EICR and the Upper Rhine Tourism Development Agency are preparing the 2012 Annual Advisory Forum: "25 Years of Council of Europe Cultural Routes", which will take stock of achievements and explore prospects for the future. Plenary sessions and workshops will include a round table on cooperation between international organisations with the participation of the European Union, UNESCO, the UNWTO and the OECD, the role of cultural routes in regional sustainable development, routes’ governance and sustainability, sustainable development and the “cultural route of the future”. A representative of the routes will be elected at the Forum and a Colmar Declaration containing a roadmap for future action proposed for adoption. The Forum will be preceded by an event in the Palais de l'Europe in Strasbourg on 21 November to mark the 25 anniversary of Council of Europe cultural routes, where an exhibition on the routes will be opened by Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland.

A third Council of Europe-European Commission Joint Programme

Cooperation with the Tourism Unit of DG Enterprise and Industry has continued very successfully, and a new Joint Programme is planned to begin in January 2013 for another 18-month term. After the first joint programme in 2010 which produced the study on the impact of cultural routes on SMEs and the second - still under way - on capacity building, this new project will allow the work achieved to be further developed, and will include chapters on publications, regional conferences, innovative use of technologies and new communication tools. The calendar for implementation will extend this form of cooperation into 2014, when new structures for cultural cooperation and financing will be adopted by the Commission, certainly with the renewed involvement of the Council of Europe.

Le Salon du Patrimoine, Paris, 7-10 November


The Institute’s stand and conference at the Paris Heritage Show at the Carrousel du Louvre, featuring a live "video booth" designed by our communications expert, Nick Hall, was an enormous success with the public. The conference presented sustainability policies implemented by the Saint James Ways, the Thermal Heritage towns and the Route of Ceramic heritage. You will see all the videos we recorded when our new website is launched!

A wealth of new projects

The Institute is currently advising and assisting around 20 new projects for routes, three of which will be presented in plenary at the November Advisory Forum – "800 years of art and culture in Europe in the footsteps of the Habsburgs", "The Iron Curtain Trail" and "ATRIUM, architecture of totalitarian regimes in 20th-century urban management". Candidates for certification in 2013 are the Huguenot Heritage route and Odyssea Land and Sea.

The First Cultural Routes Summer Seminar (3-7 September)

The First Council of Europe Cultural Routes Summer Seminar was held on at the European Youth Centre, Strasbourg, opened by the Deputy Secretary General Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni. 50 participants representing 34 certified routes and new projects from all over Europe worked with experts to discuss strategies and challenges for the cultural routes. Participants welcomed the opportunity to meet over a whole week to share experiences, gain knowledge of the Council of Europe, hold in-depth strategic debates on the objectives and management of routes and experiment new ideas. The seminar was great success and will now become an annual event.

Penelope Denu

Executive Secretary, Council of Europe Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes

Director, European Institute of Cultural Routes

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