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Digital Agenda: encouraging digitisation of EU culture to help boost growth

The European Commission has adopted a Recommendation asking EU Member States to step up their efforts, pool their resources and involve the private sector in digitising cultural material.

This is essential to make European cultural heritage more widely available and to boost growth in Europe's creative industries. The digitised material should be made available through Europeana, Europe's digital library, archive and museum (see

The Recommendation challenges Member States to develop solid plans and build partnerships to place 30 million objects in Europeana by 2015 compared to the 19 million available today; to get more in-copyright and out-of-commerce material online; and to adapt national legislation and strategies to ensure the long-term preservation of digital materials.

Neelie Kroes, Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda said: "Europe has probably the world's greatest cultural heritage. It cannot afford to miss the opportunities offered by digitisation and hence face cultural decline. Digitisation brings culture into people's homes and is a valuable resource for education, tourism games, animation and the whole creative industry. Investing in digitisation will create new companies and generate new jobs."

Europeana, which started out with 2 million items when it was launched in 2008, currently holds more than 19 million objects, which are now accessible through a more intuitive and interactive interface. In order to provide a more balanced set of contributions from across Europe, the Recommendation sets targets per Member State for minimum content contribution by 2015.

The Recommendation builds on the conclusions of the Comité des Sages (high level reflection group) on bringing Europe's cultural heritage online, established in 2010 (see IP IP/11/17).

Adoption of measures to support cultural and creative industries and ensuring a sustainable model for financing Europeana are among the goals of the Digital Agenda for Europe (see IP/10/581, MEMO/10/199 and MEMO/10/200).


Bringing the EU's cultural heritage online means that citizens throughout Europe can access and use it for leisure, studies or work at any time. Once digitised, material can also be useful for commercial and non-commercial purposes, such as developing learning and educational content, documentaries or tourism applications. This will give enormous economic opportunities to Europe's creative industries, which currently account for 3.3% of the EU's GDP and 3% of jobs in the EU.

Indicative targets (number of objects) for contribution to Europeana per Member State outlined in the new Recommendation:


600 000


759 000


267 000


45 000

Czech Republic

492 000


453 000


90 000


1 035 000


4 308 000


5 496 000


618 000


417 000


1 236 000


3 705 000


90 000


129 000


66 000


73 000


1 571 000


1 575 000


528 000


789 000


243 000


318 000


2 676 000


1 936 000


3 939 000

The new Recommendation updates a 2006 Recommendation issued in. It takes account of Member States' progress reports from 2008 and 2010, which show that although there has been some improvement, more action is needed as regards financial resources, quantitative targets for digitisation and solid support for Europeana.

The Recommendation invites Member States to:

  • Put in place solid plans for their investments in digitisation and foster public-private partnerships to share the cost of digitisation. The Recommendation spells out key principles to ensure that such partnerships are fair and balanced.

  • Make 30 million objects available through Europeana by 2015, including all Europe's masterpieces which are no longer protected by copyright, and all material digitised with public funding.

  • Get more in-copyright material online, by, for example, creating the legal framework conditions enabling large-scale digitisation and cross-border accessibility of out-of-commerce works.

  • Reinforce their strategies and adapt their legislation to ensure the long-term preservation of digital material by, for example, ensuring the material deposited is not protected by technical measures that impede librarians from preserving it.

Europeana and related activities are one of the digital service infrastructures earmarked for funding under the Connecting Europe Facility 2014-2020 (see MEMO/11/709). Digitisation of cultural artefacts creates massive opportunities for interaction with the public and for commercial development. For example, as part of Europeana's recently launched project “The First World War in everyday documents” (, which allows citizens to contribute their personal World War I memorabilia to Europeana, more than 25,000 items have already been collected and digitised. The Hack4Europe! roadshow gave 85 developers from all over Europe access to Europeana content and produced 48 innovative prototype applications for mobile phones and gaming devices.

See also MEMO/11/745

Useful links:

Recommendation on the digitalisation of cultural material and its preservation on line:

Europeana, Europe's digital library, archive and museum:

Digital Agenda website:

Neelie Kroes' website:

Follow Neelie Kroes on Twitter:

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