Tag Archives: Cultural heritage

Online access to Europe’s cultural heritage

Online access to Europe’s cultural heritage

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Online access to Europe’s cultural heritage


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Audiovisual and media

Online access to Europe’s cultural heritage

Europeana, the European digital library, which will provide the public with a single access point to Europe’s cultural heritage. The main issues addressed concern digitisation, online accessibility and digital preservation of cultural material.

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 11 August 2008 – Europe’s cultural heritage at the click of a mouse: Progress on the digitisation and online accessibility of cultural material and digital preservation across the EU [COM(2008) 513 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


This Communication sets out the progress achieved thus far and the steps that still need to be taken in order to develop Europeana, the European digital library. Particular emphasis is on the actions carried out by Member States to implement the Commission Recommendation 2006/585/EC of 24 August 2006 on the digitisation and online accessibility of cultural material and digital preservation, which was endorsed in the Council Conclusions of 20 November 2008.

Europeana will be a common multilingual point of access to digitised European material. In 2007, its development received new impetus, especially through the creation of the European Digital Library Foundation that brings together different cultural sectors. The demo site of Europeana was published in February 2008 with the aim that the prototype will be launched in November of the same year. This prototype is to be developed into a fully operational service within the following two years.

The issues yet to be addressed in the development of Europeana include the:

  • incorporation of in-copyright material;
  • provision of multilingual search and retrieval functions;
  • integration of collaborative tools;
  • promotion of Europeana to the wider public.

On the basis of the above-mentioned Recommendation, Member States have progressed on the following:

  • digitisation – Most Member States have established overviews of digitisation activities, as well as strategies and plans for digitisation. However, the overviews are not used in any systematic manner and the strategies and plans do not provide quantitative targets. Further efforts are needed in these areas, as well as in financial planning. While some of the Member States have provided substantial amounts of resources to digitisation, additional funding is needed. This could be achieved through public-private partnerships or through private sponsoring. It is also essential that the output of digitisation continues to rise. To this end, many Member States have established digitisation centres;
  • online accessibility – Many of the Member States have either established or are establishing national portals, which may act as aggregators for Europeana. Most are also working on the standards that are essential for interoperability in Europe. In order to make the availability of in-copyright material possible, some Member States have begun to involve private content holders in their work. With regard to orphan works though, progress seems to be limited. In this regard, some Member States expressed their wish for a European level solution. Similarly, little progress has been made in connection with clearing rights for digitising and making available online works that are out of print or distribution, or to barriers to the use of public domain works. More attention should be given in particular to the latter issue, as it is imperative to continue providing access to such works;
  • digital preservation – Most Member States have begun to formulate digital preservation strategies and some have already established specific preservation plans; yet, the follow-up and financial backing to these remain limited. Multiple copying for preservation purposes is already allowed in most of the Member States, and even the remaining Member States are contemplating the necessary legislative actions. Similarly, the legal deposit legislation is already updated in most Member States, but the differences in materials covered and the deposit criteria are substantial. Many of the Member States have also implemented legislation relating to web harvesting by specified institutions (usually the national library). Otherwise, access to web-harvested material remains restricted due to intellectual property and privacy rights.

Even though Member States have progressed considerably in making cultural information available online, further action needs to be taken in particular with regard to:

  • funding of and quantitative targets for digitisation;
  • support for Europeana;
  • legislative actions and other measures to enable the digitisation and accessibility of orphan works and works that are out of print or distribution;
  • financial and organisational measures relating to digital preservation.

The High Level Expert Group on Digital Libraries, set up in 2006, has given practical assistance to Member States in implementing the above Recommendation. The Group’s work focuses in particular on public-private partnerships, scientific information and copyright issues.

In order to develop the services provided by Europeana, advancements in technical issues are needed, especially to achieve cheaper and better quality digitisation and preservation techniques. The Commission has supported this progress through the Framework Programmes for Research and Development and the eContentplus programme. It has asserted its commitment to continue providing support through policy initiatives and funding programmes for the development of Europeana and other projects that improve the accessibility and preservation of digital cultural material.

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – “Europeana: next steps” [COM(2009) 440 final – Not published in the Official Journal.
This Communication sets out the challenges to come concerning the implementation of Europeana.
Europeana’s results are positive, in that it gives access to more than 4.6 million digitised books, newspapers, film clips, maps, photographs and documents and receives contributions from more than 1,000 cultural institutions.
However, the Communication notes several problems connected with:

  • an imbalance between Member States in terms of the provision of cultural material. France has contributed 47% of the digitised objects, while other Member States such as Poland and Hungary have contributed mainly books;
  • copyright, in that recent works enjoy protection which limits access to them, unlike works from before 1900. It is important to establish collaboration with rightholders in order to improve access to protected works. Another challenge lies in the legal consequences of digitisation;
  • the financing and governance of Europeana.

Further efforts are therefore necessary in order to ensure that citizens can enjoy the services of Europeana fully.

Council conclusions of 20 November 2008 on the European digital library Europeana [Official Journal C 319 of 13.12.2008].
In its conclusions the Council of the European Union expressed satisfaction with the gradual establishment of the Europeana European library and the commitment of Member States to this project. In order for the project to be a success, the Council invites Member States to:

  • continue their strategy of implementation of their national objectives;
  • promote synergies between them in the process of digitisation and increasing online accessibility of cultural material;
  • incorporate digital cultural material in Europeana;
  • facilitate digitisation and online access to orphan works.

The European Commission is invited to encourage the development of Europeana and to promote it in Europe and the world, as well as to encourage the establishment of public-private partnerships to develop it.

This summary is for information only. It is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document, which remains the only binding legal text.

I2010: Digital libraries

i2010: Digital libraries

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about i2010: Digital libraries


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Information society > Digital Strategy i2010 Strategy eEurope Action Plan Digital Strategy Programmes

i2010: Digital libraries

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 30 September 2005 to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – i2010: digital libraries [COM(2005) 465 final – Official Journal C 49 of 28.2.2008].


The purpose of the Digital Libraries Initiative is to make Europe’s cultural, audiovisual and scientific heritage accessible to all.

More specifically, the initiative aims to make European information sources more accessible and easier and more interesting to use in an online environment. Taking as its starting point our rich European heritage, the initiative combines cultural diversity, multilingualism and technological progress.


Digital libraries are organised collections of digital content made available to the public. The content is material that has either been digitised (copies of books and other documents) or that was initially produced in digital format.

There are three priority areas in which the potential of digital technologies is to be exploited to widen access to information:

  • online accessibility;
  • the digitisation of analogue collections;
  • the preservation and storage of digital content.

In addition to our European cultural heritage, another key area for digital libraries is scientific information.

Cultural, social and economic aspects

Digital libraries provide considerable added value in terms not only of cultural visibility, but also of jobs and investment.

Making the wealth of material contained in European libraries, museums and archives (books, newspapers, films, photographs, maps, etc.) available online will make it easier for citizens to appreciate their cultural heritage and use it for study, work or leisure. This will complement and support the objectives of the European Union (EU) action on culture.

Libraries and archives are major sectors of activity in terms of investments and employment. By increasing their use and the visibility of their resources, digitisation could significantly increase their already considerable impact on the economy as a whole.


There are two main reasons for digitising these resources:

  • to provide the widest possible access for the general public;
  • to ensure their survival.

At present, only a small part of our European collections has been digitised. In order to ensure that digitisation proceeds efficiently and at a reasonable pace, a number of challenges have to be overcome, one of these being the remarkable quantity and range of material held by European libraries and archives. The others fall into four categories:

  • financial challenges (the considerable investments and labour required);
  • organisational challenges (the risk of digitising the same works several times, and the need to upgrade the skills of the staff involved);
  • technical challenges (the need to improve digitisation techniques);
  • legal challenges (the compatibility of digitisation with intellectual property rights- IPRs).

Online accessibility

The system used by traditional libraries for lending material is not suitable for the digital environment. In addition, the prior consent of the holder of property rights is needed before material can be made available online, except where the material is in the public domain. Consequently, a European library will basically have to concentrate on public domain material. In some cases, the costs of establishing the IPR-status of a work will be higher than the cost of digitising it and bringing it online. This is particularly true for so-called ‘orphan works’ – films or books for which it is impossible or very difficult to determine who holds the rights.

Improving online accessibility also requires appropriate multilingual services to allow users to explore and work with the content.

Preserving digital content: the present situation and the challenges

Making a digital copy of a book or a film does not necessarily guarantee its long-term survival and so, digitisation without a suitable strategy for preserving material can result in a large-scale waste of resources (human and financial).

In addition, digital preservation is a serious problem for the information society, with the supply of information growing exponentially and content becoming more and more dynamic. At present, we have little experience with digital preservation, the legal framework is evolving, resources are scarce and the outcome of work to preserve content is uncertain.

The main causes of the loss of digital content are the:

  • succession of generations of computer hardware that can render files unreadable;
  • rapid succession and obsolescence of software applications;
  • limited lifetime of digital storage devices, such as CD-ROMs.

Libraries and archives have started tackling the issue of preservation in the digital age on a limited scale. However, within the individual Member States there is, in general, no clear policy.

Although most progress has been made in the area of legal deposit, the scope of this varies widely from country to country.

As with digitisation, the preservation of content also poses a number of challenges:

  • financial challenges (the actual long-term cost of preservation is still not known for sure);
  • organisational challenges (there is a risk that differing approaches will be adopted, effort will be duplicated, working methods will be inappropriate, staff will not have the necessary skills and there will be a lack of cooperation between public and private players);
  • technical challenges (essentially, digital preservation needs to be made more cost-efficient and affordable);
  • legal challenges (as digital preservation depends on copying and migration, it must comply with IPR legislation. The legal deposit of digital material also raises a number of questions, including the different rules in force).

A European response

While organising and funding the digitisation of cultural collections and their digital preservation is primarily a responsibility of the Member States, considerable European added value can be achieved in certain specific areas.

A number of initiatives have already been taken at European level, including:

  • the eEurope Action Plan launched by the Commission in 1999, which was followed by further Action Plans in 2002 and 2005;
  • the Lund Principles and the corresponding Action Plan;
  • the creation of a National Representatives Group on digitisation;
  • the Council Resolution of 25 June 2002 on preserving tomorrow’s memory – preserving digital content for future generations;
  • the Council Recommendation 2005/835/EC of 14 November 2005 on priority actions to increase cooperation in the field of archives in Europe.

Further initiatives will be taken in the near future:

  • a proposal for a Recommendation on digitisation and digital preservation;
  • a Communication on digital libraries of scientific information.

As regards co-financing at Community level, the research programmes, the eContentplus and Culture programmes as well as the Regional Funds will be used for actions with a European interest for the digitisation, digital preservation and accessibility of cultural content:

  • under the Seventh Framework Programme for research and technological development, the Commission will part-finance the establishment of a network of centres of competence for digitisation and preservation;
  • under the eContentplus programme, EUR 60 million will be available in the period 2005-08 for projects improving the accessibility and usability of European cultural and scientific content;
  • the Regional Funds already part-finance digitisation initiatives in some of the Member States;
  • digitisation is one of the principal objectives of the cooperation projects part-financed under the “Culture 2000” programme. Part-financing is also available under the “Culture 2007” programme. This should improve the transnational circulation of cultural works and products.

Related Acts

Commission Recommendation 2006/585/EC of 24 August 2006 on the digitisation and online accessibility of cultural material and digital preservation [Official Journal L 236 of 31.8.2006].

In this Recommendation, the Commission calls on Member States to speed up the digitisation and online accessibility of cultural material (books, films, photographs, manuscripts, etc). The aim is to put Europe’s cultural heritage online through the European Digital Library. To this end, Member States are encouraged to:

  • collect information for producing overviews of digitisation;
  • develop quantitative targets for digitisation;
  • create public-private partnerships for funding purposes;
  • develop facilities for large-scale digitisation;
  • endorse the European Digital Library;
  • improve the conditions in which cultural material is digitised and accessed online.

Furthermore, the Commission is recommending that Member States take steps to further the digital preservation of cultural material by:

  • setting-up national strategies and action plans, and exchanging information on these;
  • establishing appropriate legislative provisions for the multiple copying and migration of digital material, as well as for the preservation of web-content;
  • creating policies and procedures for the deposit of digital material, with due consideration given to the measures of other Member States.

Communication from the Commission of 1 June 2005 to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – “i2010 – A European Information Society for growth and employment” [COM(2005) 229 final – Official Journal C 236 of 24.9.2005].

New political framework for European tourism

New political framework for European tourism

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about New political framework for European tourism


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Enterprise > Industry

New political framework for European tourism

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – “Europe, the world’s No 1 tourist destination – a new political framework for tourism in Europe” [COM(2010) 352 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


In accordance with the new European Union (EU) priorities set out in the ‘Europe 2020’ strategy, and to keep Europe as the world’s top tourist destination, the Commission proposes a new framework for coordinated tourism actions at EU level to increase the competitiveness and capacity for sustainable growth of European tourism.

Tourism represents the third largest socioeconomic activity in the EU and is estimated to generate over 10 % of the EU’s GDP, providing approximately 12 % of all jobs. It is therefore an important sector for both EU citizens and industry, with a positive effect on economic growth and employment within the EU.

The Treaty of Lisbon recognised the importance of tourism, granting the EU the power to support, coordinate and complement actions of the EU countries in this sector. The definition and clarification of the EU’s competencies in this field enables the establishment of a comprehensible framework for action. According to the Treaty of Lisbon, the EU’s specific measures in the tourism sector should be aimed at:

  • encouraging the creation of a favourable environment for the development of undertakings in this sector;
  • promoting cooperation between EU countries, particularly by the exchange of good practice.

Challenges and opportunities facing the European tourism industry

European tourism has faced a difficult economic situation due to the financial and economic crisis of 2008 which had a significant impact on the demand for tourism services. The situation was worsened by the interruption of air traffic due to volcanic ash clouds following the Ejyafjöll volcano eruption in 2010, resulting in an important number of cancelled tourist arrivals and consequently a considerable loss to the air transport sector, as well as to the hotel sector and other tourist-related activities.

New framework for action in European tourism

In line with the ‘Europe 2020’ economic strategy, the framework for tourism actions at EU level can be built around the following four priorities:

  • Stimulate competitiveness in the European tourism sector by:

    • developing innovation in tourism by, for example, facilitating the adaptation of the sector and its businesses to market developments in the field of information and communication technology and innovation;
    • improving professional skills in the sector through promotion of opportunities offered by various EU programmes, such as Leonardo or the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme with its “Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs” and “E-skills for Innovations” strands;
    • attempting to overcome the seasonal nature of demand by, for example, facilitating voluntary tourism exchanges between EU countries, especially during the low season and for specific target groups of the society, and encouraging the development of a voluntary online information exchange to improve the coordination of school holidays in EU countries;
    • promoting diversification of the supply of tourist services in particular by better focusing on and promoting Europe’s common heritage, as well as by integrating ‘natural’ heritage into tourism strategies;
    • contributing towards a better coordination of tourism-related research activities and consolidating the socioeconomic data on tourism at European level.
  • Promote the development of sustainable, responsible and high-quality tourism by:

    • developing a system of indicators for the sustainable management of destinations which could contribute towards developing a label for promoting sustainable tourist destinations;
    • organising awareness-raising campaigns better informing European tourists about destinations, including information about transport and relationships with the local population;
    • developing a European brand for tourism quality, based on national experiences, to increase consumer security and confidence;
    • facilitating the identification of climate change risks to protect the European tourism industry from making the wrong investments and exploring alternative tourism services;
    • proposing a charter for sustainable and responsible tourism;
    • proposing a strategy for sustainable coastal and marine tourism;
    • establishing or strengthening the EU’s cooperation with emerging countries and with Mediterranean countries to promote sustainable and responsible tourism development models and the exchange of best practice.
  • Consolidate the image and profile of Europe as a collection of sustainable and high-quality destinations by:

    • supporting the creation of a ‘Europe brand’, in close cooperation with EU countries and complementary to their promotional efforts, so as to enable European destinations to better stand out when compared to other international tourist destinations;
    • promoting Europe as a sustainable and high-quality tourist destination through the ‘visiteurope.com’ website and at major international events or large-scale tourism fairs and exhibitions;
    • strengthening EU participation in international bodies.
  • Maximise the potential of EU policies and financial instruments for developing tourism by:

    • better integrating and coordinating tourism with other EU policies, such as transport, competition, internal market, taxation, consumer protection, environment, employment and training, regional and rural development policy which all have a direct or indirect impact on tourism;
    • promoting and mobilising Community support instruments and programmes in favour of tourism, such as the European Regional Development Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, and the European Fisheries Fund.