The European space finds itself in a moment of profound change. On one hand it is adapting to the challenges that are inherent to the global, post-industrial economy. A shift from traditional manufacturing towards innovative and service oriented activities, the relocation of economic activities to countries where inputs, in particular labour, are cheaper, an ageing population in combination with growing in migration from non-member countries have an immediate impact on the Europe of Regions. On the other hand, the extension of the European Union towards the East inevitably triggers complex and Europe-wide processes of social, economic and territorial reorganization. In this context, the role of Cultural Heritage and Identity (CHI) may very well become a very crucial one. First of all, cultural heritage and identity are assets that are putting Europe in pole position with respect to the rest of the world, offering all European regions, no one excluded, unique social and economic development opportunities. They are important inputs for the creative industry and the tourist industry, two of the most important (the second already employs more than 10% of the global workforce) and dynamic sectors of the post-industrial economy. Moreover, cultural assets are typical place products that can not be separated nor moved from the regions they are located in. This makes these economic strictly bound to that location and impossible to re-localize. Thirdly, many cultural assets and traditions are not only points of reference for the local populations but for Europeans as such. Finally, in a Europe that is pursuing cohesion and competitiveness contemporarily, CHI forms sort of a natural bridge between two (apparently) not always compatible objectives. This means that CHI should become a cornerstone of European territorial policy.
Cultural Heritage; Identity; Regional Development; Cultural Heritage Policies, Spatial Policies
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