clausuraThe 5th Consultative Forum on Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe has come to an end with the Declaration of Aranjuez, which argues that the routes must undertake to promote European values through culture, as well as cooperation and understanding among European citizens. The declaration also endorses active European citizenship to strengthen democracy in Europe, indicating that culture should be one of the driving forces paving the way towards a better Europe and world, feeding the soul of the routes to achieve the above objectives. Among other aspects, the declaration emphasizes that the routes should encourage cooperation between European regions and reinforce relationships with other international institutions such as UNESCO and its World Heritage sites.

In the closing ceremony it was demonstrated how the European Cultural Routes defend European cultural diversity while reinforcing the European identity and allowing us to get a better understanding of our history, heritage and territory. This would be impossible to envisage without routes such as those certified this year, including the European Routes of Emperor Charles V and the Napoleonic Routes. The forum, attended by over 200 representatives from the 33 European Cultural Routes certified by the Council of Europe and others from the world of culture and tourism throughout Europe, highlighted the consolidation of the European Cultural Routes as a driving force for cultural, social and economic development at local, regional, national and European levels.

Similarly, governmental organizations were urged during the closing ceremony to pay special attention to the Cultural Routes certified by the Council of Europe by means of their funding programs. The declaration also calls on the Council of Europe to give special consideration to the promotion of the Cultural Routes program as a “quality brand” and contemplate including environmental sustainability among the evaluation criteria for the certified routes and the new candidate projects. It also makes special mention of the role to be played in the routes by young people, who must be involved in all the aspects of their development and dissemination, including the protection, preservation and management of their cultural heritage. Finally, it underlines that the routes should continue their work to adapt their activities to new audiences and new ways to travelling and visiting the places and destinations they promote, particularly by means of the development and use of the new information and communications technology.

The next forum will take place in Vilnius (Lithuania) in October 2016.