Interview with Mariya Gabriel – European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth

Interview with Mariya Gabriel – European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth

Mariya Gabriel - European Commissioner
CHARTER and Commissioner Mariya Gabriel discuss the EU guidelines for the safe resumption of activities in the cultural and creative sectors, which mention CHARTER as a key project and best practises example. Gabriel is pleased with the guidelines since they present a crucial step in ensuring a strong political commitment at European level towards the cultural heritage sectors’ recovery.

We also talked about emerging skills and the need to enshrine traditional skills while adopting new and digital skills. She strongly believes that young people have to be involved when strengthening the role of cultural heritage in the development of a more inclusive, sustainable and resilient society. It’s also clear that she shares our high hopes for CHARTER.

The EU guidelines for the safe resumption of activities in the cultural and creative sectors were launched on 29 June 2021. We congratulate you for this important acknowledgment and support for the cultural sector. Which are the aspects that makes you the proudest of this initiative?

The first reason for me to consider this initiative a success lies in its driving force, namely the needs strongly expressed by the sectors, over the past months, and addressed by the Commission with these guidelines, to provide EU guidance on safe and sustainable reopening of culture. The idea of a coordinated approach to facilitate Member States’ implementation of measures to help the cultural and creative sectors identify common principles across Europe is our main achievement. This was a crucial step for us, in order to ensure a strong political commitment at European level towards the sectors’ recovery.

This aspect leads me to the second reason I am proud of these guidelines: they demonstrate our commitment to supporting the sectors towards both the safe resumption of activities and towards long-term sustainability. I think we can all be very proud of this at EU level, because this has been a joint endeavour. We managed to work closely with our institutional health partners, such as the European Centre for Disease prevention and Control (ECDC) and the competent services in the Commission. This holistic approach helped us take into account the overall concerns relevant to this twofold strategy, in which safety and sustainability cannot be separated. Finally, my services in DG EAC and I, are very proud of leveraging the many instruments and initiatives we have developed over the last two years, to support the cultural world in surviving the pandemic and we can look with confidence to the future.

We’re very grateful to be included in the EU Guidelines in relation to cultural heritage skills and capacity building. In which ways can the CHARTER partners support Member States in achieving this initiative?

As mentioned in our guidelines, in the specific section dedicated to “Actions to support the sustainable recovery of the cultural sectors”, we want to encourage both Member States and the CCSI to promote new training models, peer learning and upskilling, in order to give cultural workers and professionals the new skills needed for the digital recovery. CHARTER can be a key project, thanks to its wide and diversified consortium, for working with Member States’ educational and training authorities and providing them with evidence-based solutions able to drive strategic investments into skills, digital training and digital capacity building.

This engagement should be developed in parallel with the understanding of the evolution of cultural heritage related skills, without losing track of the importance of traditional skills and professions that will still need continuous support. Indeed, their expertise is fundamental in nurturing the richness and professionalism of cultural heritage institutions and work, as well in identifying new market solutions meeting employers’ needs.

In relation to cultural heritage in post-covid times, which do you consider the most important digital skills to be developed in the sector?

I think there are two main groups of digital skills that have become increasingly important and strategic to cultural heritage. On the one hand, all skills that are related to the capacity of digitising cultural content, preserving cultural heritage either born digital or towards increased digitisation strategies for archives, libraries and museums. New digital skills linked to cultural heritage’s capacity to innovate forms of production and enhancement and to strengthen its impact on society, are also crucial in enhancing heritage values and mission.

On the other hand, I consider it essential to take into account the emergence of the need to increase digital skills across cultural heritage professionals in the field of management, communication and data analysis. The capacity to use and understand artificial intelligence mechanisms for promotion, dissemination and attracting tourists and residents in a more targeted way, including through digital media oriented strategies, are indispensable assets for cultural heritage related competitiveness

According to you, what is the role of youth in connection to cultural heritage?

Our young people; have to be, first of all, the generation embracing the vision of a forward looking policy for culture and cultural heritage where the new skills that we are trying to foster today will become the “traditional” skills of tomorrow.

Therefore young people are also the part of society that can leverage a strengthened role of cultural heritage in the development of a more inclusive, sustainable and resilient society. Investing in promoting cultural heritage towards younger generations is also an essential way to prepare society to face any future crises by building stronger collective identities.

What do you hope CHARTER accomplishes for the cultural heritage sector?

CHARTER is the project that has won our first Blueprint Call under Erasmus+ dedicated to build up a sectorial alliance and sustainable strategy for cultural heritage skills and professions. It is the first of its kind supported by the European Commission, and it is the largest. I do have big hopes for this project.

I hope it will accomplish its mission and particularly that it will be an instrument for making all relevant partners of this strategy more interconnected and interdependent for the future support of cultural heritage workers and practitioners.

I also hope that CHARTER’s success will allow it to become a very visible and relevant platform, a long-term reference in Europe, helping the world of education and training maintain an effective cooperation and interface with cultural heritage employers. In so doing, their needs could be better aligned and coordinated across Europe, in order to allow all those that have strong motivations to work in the cultural heritage sector be able to see their rights transferred and their skills and curricula recognised everywhere in Europe.


Mariya Gabriel - European Commissioner

Under the leadership of Mariya Gabriel, the new Horizon Europe, Erasmus+, and the cultural strand of Creative Europe programmes (2021-2027) are defined and implemented. Her main priorities are excellence in research and education (ERA, EEA); tackling the innovation divide in Europe; Europe as a leader in strategic area through the digital and green transitions, with a particular attention to young people and regions. “No one left behind” and “Think out of the box” are her mottos.

Between 2017 and 2019, Mariya Gabriel was European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society. She proposed the new Digital Europe programme, worked on EU Strategy on AI, disinformation online, cybersecurity and launched the EuroHPC strategy. She has extensively engaged with external EU partners to enhance digital cooperation, in particular with the Western Balkans and Africa.

She was elected Member of the European Parliament (MEP) in 2009, 2014 and 2019. Mariya Gabriel is First Vice-President of the European People’s Party (EPP), and since 2012, Vice-President of EPP Women.

Commissioner Gabriel is a board member of the United Nations youth programme Generation Unlimited (GenU). She has been ranked among the 50 most influential women in Europe in the field of cybersecurity by the leading European cybersecurity magazine SC Media UK (2019). Mariya Gabriel is also known for her involvement in the fight for gender equality.

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