Group of men and women posing for a group photo

Caption: Participants to the Second Meeting of the Blue Shield National Committees from Europe © Valentina Sabucco, 2019

This year the European Blue Shield National Committees Annual Meeting took place on 3-5 November in Brussels. The event was organised by the Austrian and Belgian Committees of the Blue Shield with the support of the City of Brussels, the Flemish Interface Centre for Cultural Heritage (FARO), and hosted by the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (KIK-IRPA).

The event offered participants a wonderful platform to gather and discuss the challenges and opportunities that EU countries are currently facing in terms of cultural property protection and illicit trafficking.

The meeting started with a visit to the Town Hall in the Grand Place and the Brussels City Museum. Both tours allowed participants to learn about the history of the World Heritage Site, and to discuss its current emergency plans, as well as ongoing work of stabilisation to prevent historic buildings from further decay.

During the second and third day, each National Committee of the Blue Shield (BS NCs) gave a brief presentation outlining their most significant activities conducted over the last year, as well as the issues faced. Collaborations with heritage NGOs and national governments, training with armed forces on cultural property protection in the event of conflict, and awareness campaigns were among the activities presented by the national committees.

Caption: on the left: participants at the Brussels City Museum; in the middle: the the Grand Place in Brussels; on the right: participants at the European Parliament © Valentina Sabucco, 2019

Mr Harald Hartung (Head of the Fair Societies and Cultural Heritage, at European Parliament) gave an overview on the main funding schemes for Horizon 2020 Societal Challenges with a specific focus on the section about cultural heritage and its safeguarding.

The topics of illicit trafficking of antiquities and the necessity of advocating for more robust EU legislation were examined during a conversation with the former MEP for the West Midlands, Daniel Dalton. This topic, together with the possibility of establishing a permanent delegation for the Blue Shield at the EU parliament, was also discussed further with MEP Dace Melbarde, Vice-Chair of the Committee of Culture and Education at the EU Parliament.

The meeting ended with final remarks by the President of Blue Shield International, Karl von Habsburg. He offered his support to the EU national committees in lobbying for better representation of BS in the EU Parliament, as well as promoting a more effective dialogue and greater influence regarding the implementation of the EU regulations on cultural property protection and illicit trafficking.

Lear more about the activities of the Blue Shield national committees in the section of our website dedicated to the news of Blue Shield.