Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe: What is it and why is it important?
The Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe (EPA) is a framework established in 1998 to promote and further develop cultural routes, or itineraries that connect sites, events, and traditions around a common theme, across Europe. The EPA currently includes 38 member states and is supported by the European Union, UNESCO and other international organizations.
The EPA aims to improve the quality of cultural tourism by providing a platform for joint development and coordination of cultural routes. It also promotes sustainable tourism, as cultural routes are often located in rural areas or regions that have been neglected by traditional tourism. By promoting cultural routes, EPA strives to foster cultural dialogue and exchange, contribute to the revitalization of local communities, and enhance mutual understanding and respect among peoples and cultures.
The EPA has a number of objectives set forth in its statutes, which include:
– Promoting cultural routes as a means of cultural exchange and dialogue, as well as a factor of regional development
– Encouraging the development of new cultural routes and improving the quality of existing ones
– Facilitating cooperation, exchange of experience and knowledge among members of the EPA, as well as with other countries and international organizations
– Protecting and promoting cultural heritage along the cultural routes, with particular attention to the sustainable use of resources, the protection of historic monuments and sites, and the respect for local communities and their traditions
– Enhancing the visibility and awareness of cultural routes through communication and promotion activities, such as publications, events, and digital platforms
One of the most significant achievements of the EPA is the establishment of the European Institute of Cultural Routes in 1998, which acts as the EPA`s advisory body and also supports the development and promotion of cultural routes. The Institute cooperates with other European organizations and institutions, such as the European Commission, the Council of Europe and UNESCO, to foster sustainable and responsible tourism, protect and manage heritage, and provide training and capacity-building for stakeholders involved in cultural routes.
The EPA has also developed a certification system for cultural routes, which serves as a quality label for routes that meet certain criteria of excellence in terms of cultural value, sustainability, accessibility, and management. The certification system, known as the Cultural Route of the Council of Europe, has been awarded to 38 cultural routes across Europe, such as the Camino de Santiago, the Viking Route and the Route of the Olive Tree.
In conclusion, the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe is an important initiative that promotes cultural exchange, regional development, and sustainable tourism across Europe. By supporting the development and certification of cultural routes, the EPA contributes to the protection and promotion of cultural heritage, and enhances mutual understanding and respect among peoples and cultures. Through its activities, the EPA plays a significant role in shaping the cultural identity and diversity of Europe, and in fostering the European project of peace, democracy, and human rights.