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2 minutes to read Posted on Monday August 22, 2022

Updated on Wednesday January 24, 2024

portrait of Marie-Véronique Leroi

Marie-Véronique Leroi

Project Manager , Ministry of Culture

portrait of Shadi Ardalan

Shadi Ardalan

Head of Member State Relations and Governance , Europeana Foundation

Report from the French Presidency Europeana Conference

Under the auspices of the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Europeana held a conference in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture of France and the Mobilier National on ‘Building the common European data space for cultural heritage together’. Read the Executive Summary and download the whole report below.

A fountain and trees in a square
Paris, Ancien Hôtel Mazarin, Bibliothèque Nationale
Atget, Eugène (1857-1927)
Atget, Eugène (1857-1927)
National Institute for Art History Library

Executive summary

This report presents findings and outcomes of the discussions from the French Presidency Europeana Conference ‘Building the Common European Data Space for cultural heritage together’ on 1 March 2022. This digital conference was delivered as part of Europeana DSI-4 . It was held under the auspices of the French Presidency, in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture of France and the Mobilier National. 

The digital ambitions and priorities of the French Presidency include: laying the foundations for a European industrial data-sharing culture, supporting the creation of European data spaces; keeping up the momentum on the digital decade; accelerating the twin green and digital transitions; and reinforcing Europe’s security in the digital age. France hopes to move forward two major pieces of EU legislation on digital protections - the Digital Services Act (DSA) and the Digital Markets Act (DMA) while Paris holds the EU chair. 

The Europeana conference involved 330 participants from 43 countries across the sector. The event brought together policymakers from European ministries of culture, the CEDCHE Expert Group, representatives of the European Commission, aggregators, and professionals from cultural heritage institutions. The conference aimed to stimulate reflection and dialogue around the creation of the common European data space for cultural heritage - the needs, the key challenges and the aspirations for achieving it. It aimed to create a basis for collaborative ongoing dialogue among the stakeholders and actors in efforts towards the building of the data space.

The event explored the speakers’ and participants’ visions for the data space for cultural heritage, its building blocks and how they’re interconnected, as well as its aims and desired features. It looked at some of the aspects of the European Commission’s recommendation for the creation of the data space and Europe’s support instruments and mechanisms. Participants also discussed the process of contributing to the creation of a data space for cultural heritage compared to the current process of contributing to the Europeana Initiative. 

The data space aims to make digital content available for access, use and reuse, provide new services and products, and create data for SMEs and startups. For the data space to succeed, a robust infrastructure, high quality data, rules on access and engagement, governance, multilingualism and interoperability are required. The participants envision a value-driven common European data space for cultural heritage: a safe, democratic, inclusive and reciprocal public digital space. Building a data space is an ambitious vision by definition, but the sector is not starting from scratch. It’s building on what has been developed in the past decade by the Europeana Initiative. However, building on what exists does not imply that it will be an easy task; transforming the current infrastructure into a data space will be challenging. The participants acknowledged that the building of the data space will be a work in progress for some years before getting fully functional. The participants agreed all actors and stakeholders need to work collaboratively in the same direction for the success of the data space. It requires the entire sector to be both invested  and active, and to embrace the contribution of other sectors and the public. The added value that the data space for cultural heritage can bring to other data spaces is in sharing best practices, models, standards and frameworks as well as sharing the data. 

Some of the most important elements for the development of the data space were considered to be: a robust technical and technological infrastructure, interoperability, connection to other data spaces, multilingualism, 3D, long-term digital preservation, data quantity and quality, bridging gaps in capacity and funding, aggregation and aggregator communities.

Some of the challenges ahead were identified to be:

  • Data quality constantly evolves and criteria become obsolete

  •   Standards and technologies around data aggregation and sharing evolve and impact infrastructures and data quality 

  • National strategies go in different directions, aren’t harmonised and in some cases lack alignment with the vision for the data space

  • Multilingualism

  • Lack or shortage of resources

Some of the needs:

  • Shared understanding and vision

    • A shared understanding of requirements and rules for participation and engagement

    • Motivation of cultural heritage institutions 

  • Policies

    • Harmonisation and alignment  of approaches for European,  national and local policies

  • Collaboration and community

    • Synergies among stakeholders and actors

    • Cross-sector synergies 

    • Community collaboration

    • Community-driven and human-centred approaches

    • Multi-country initiatives towards specific goals 

    • Rules and principles for participation and engagement

  • Support in access to funding streams 

  • Standards and frameworks

    • Higher compatibility in standards

    • Expanding the current frameworks

    • Definition of heritage at risk

  • Technology and infrastructure

    • European cloud and edge services for cultural heritage

    • Technologies and automated approaches to scale

    • 3D

    • Interoperability

    • Long-term digital preservation

  • Data governance and aggregation

    • Aggregators community

    • Ownership and copyright

    • Data quality

For this report, we summarised, condensed and simplified notes and transcripts of the keynote, roundtable and panel discussions held in March 2022. The summary stays loyal and honest to what emerged from the discussions, but some reorganisation and synthesis has been applied to encapsulate the ideas that stood out so that they become useful concepts for further discussion. 

There are no ‘final conclusions’. We consider this report to be the basic findings that all stakeholders and actors can continue to work with to develop new insights and refine their thinking as the work on designing and building the data space progresses. This event was the first organised after the publication of the Recommendation by the European Commission related to the European Common data space for Cultural Heritage. This Presidency conference set the scene for the transformation of the Europeana Initiative and initiated the conversation with relevant stakeholders.

The Europeana Initiative will continue to facilitate conversations on a common European data space for cultural heritage, building on the outcomes of this meeting. Together with stakeholders and members of the Europeana Aggregators’ Forum and Europeana Network Association, the Europeana Foundation will explore what was missing from the conversation and where the Europeana Initiative can be most effective, and support the development of the data space. 

The most important outcome of this conference was the call for unity and action. Only if all actors and stakeholders work together collaboratively, can we ensure the success of the common European data space for cultural heritage. 

Download the full report below.