The European Heritage Heads Forum is an informal network that brings together the heads of the European state heritage authorities (built heritage, landscapes and archaeology) to share ideas about the management of the historic environment. Our discussions centre on emerging trends, political engagement, European legislation and the scope of international heritage protection and how these affect national properties from Bavarian castles to Italian palazzi. We also look at research, development, current challenges and the economic future of heritage throughout Europe.
I founded the forum in 2006 after a series of meetings with my opposite numbers between March and August 2005. 16 countries were covered by this work including the three UK Home Countries. The only major EU country I didn’t visit was Spain. English Heritage hosted the first meeting of the Forum in London in 2006 and it was attended by 21 of the 25 European states.
Subsequent meetings were held as follows:
- Prague 2007
- Copenhagen 2008
- Vienna/Bratislava 2009
- Paris 2012
- Amsterdam 2011
- Berlin/Potsdam 2012
- Oslo 2013
- Leuven 2014
At the Leuven meeting I stood down from my position as founder and president and was presented with a book recording the meetings of the forum over the last decade.
I believe that these sorts of international for a are very important. The UK can sometimes be very much on the side-lines in Europe and the Forum gives us a chance to understand what is happening in European policy and legislation that might affect heritage.
When we started the Forum was very informal but in 2013, the year that both France and Britain celebrated a major heritage centenary, the Forum acquired its own secretariat and permanent employee. This will enable us to have a much more effective presence in Brussels and try and positively influence directives that affect England’s heritage.