Declaration for the Twentieth Anniversary of the Via Francigena

The Declaration for supporting the Via Francigena and the Programme of the Council of Europe Cultural Routes. This document was launched during the EAVF General Assemblies in Acquapendente and Lucca, in the framework of the XX Anniversary of the Via Francigena.

The Declaration was sent to the European Institutions and Organisations:

- To the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz
- To the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker
- To the President of the European Council Matteo Renzi
To the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Anne Brasseur

We are citizens, representatives of local authorities and associations of volunteers, gathered in Acquapendente on Saturday May 31st at the International Conference of the European Association of the Via Francigena (EAVF) to celebrate the 20th anniversary (1994-2014) of the reward as “Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe” for the Via Francigena and to remember the 27th anniversary of the launch of the “Programme of the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe” in Santiago de Compostela (1987).

It is our opinion that Europe is at a political, economic and social crossroad that needs a strong initiative in order to give more political strength to the European institutions and to strengthen cooperation between Member States of the European Union and the Council of Europe and the awareness of the common destiny of their citizens. We believe that the European Parliament and the European Commission, recently renovated, and the Council of Europe will be able to make the necessary and unavoidable decisions.

We hope that initiatives and common projects may take place - like tangible and intangible infrastructures, cultural and social innovative collaborations, European artistic, literary and theatrical networks – which may become tools for revitalizing the labor market, the talents and to motivate young people to become the main protagonists of the European cause.

We have being working on the farseeing and innovative “Program of the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe” for a long time. This programme is growing in the framework of the Enlarged Partial Agreement, at which we hope the European Commission will fully participate.

The sustainable tourism network of the “Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe” is something more than a simple tool to maintain Europe as the first worldwide touristic destination; it is the rediscovery of a wide immaterial network that crosses the continent from north to south, from east to west extending to the Mediterranean and the far East, connecting the European Countries in a peaceful dialogue and cooperation in the field of Culture, Environment and Tourism. It represents an effective way to know each other and to participate in the creation of new sustainable forms of economy.

It was well-written by Jacques Le Goff (1924-2014): “Europe is currently under construction. It's a great hope that won't come true if we don't take into account its history; Europe without history would be like an unhappy orphan. And it's because today comes from yesterday and tomorrow comes from the past. A past that must not paralyze the present but on the contrary it has to help it to be different in the coherence and new in the progress. Our Europe, between the Atlantic Ocean, Asia and Africa has being existing for a very long time, drawn by geography, shaped by history, since the moment when the Greeks gave it its name that still remains today. The future must rely on the heritages that, since ancient times, even since prehistory, created Europe as it is today, a world of wealth with an extraordinary creativity in its unity and diversity.

The “Study on the impact of the European Cultural Itineraries on SME's innovation”  commissioned by the Council of Europe and the European Commission (Bruxelles, June 28th 2011), shows that the development of a network of the Certified Cultural Itineraries provides real answers to the demand for skilled job and it has a special role in fighting the crisis of territories often considered “less important” that is to say the rural and less-known areas.

The Via Francigena and the Cultural Routes support tourism, economy and territorial development representing an incredible mean of social and territorial cohesion, able to increase confidence in the future.

We hope that the work for the accomplishment of the Via Francigena will carry on in order to fully express all its potential as a tool of knowledge and cohesion, in this critical period for the whole of Europe. We propose the project of the Via Francigena to be highlighted as an important goal of the programme of the European structural funds 2014-2020.

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THE EUROPEAN ASSOCIATION OF THE VIA FRANCIGENA GATHERED IN ASSEMBLY IN ACQUAPENDENTE commits to:

  • Strengthen the network of the territorial communities along the Route of Sigeric, from Canterbury to Rome, and to extend the itinerary towards Puglia and other acknowledged historical ways;
  • Promote the inter-institutional cooperation between Ministries and regions of the four Countries crossed by the Via Francigena (Italy, Switzerland, France and England);
  • Sensitize Regions, local authorities and volunteers associations to provide the entire path with the necessary services and facilities: security, information and accommodation;
  • Promote the approval of the “Euro Master Plan (EMP) of the Via Francigena” and the Interregional European Coordination of the regions crossed by the Via Francigena;
  • Promote the joint work of the four components needed for the development of the Via Francigena as European Cultural Route: 1. institutions, 2. associations, 3. scientific research centres, 4. traders and touristic operators;
  • Strengthen the scientific network of European Universities working on the Via Francigena;
  • Promote and strengthen the inter-cultural dialogue between the Anglo-Saxon Europe and the Mediterranean Europe with reference to the four sites symbols of religious culture worldwide: Rome, Jerusalem, Santiago de Compostela and Canterbury;
  • Consolidate the synergy between the “Cultural European Routes” which are based on the ancient pilgrimage ways: Santiago de Compostela, St. Olaf, Saint Michel, St. Martin and other ways like the “Via Romea Germanica” (from Stade to Rome), the historical Thermal towns and the Silk Route;
  • Promote the cultural thematic and touristic products along the route;

THE EUROPEAN ASSOCIATION OF THE VIA FRANCIGENA
is asking to the European institutions:

  • to promote the “Program of the Cultural Routes” in the European programme  2014-2020;
  • to present the Via Francigena and the European Cultural Routes during Expo Milan 2015;
  • to support the European networks of inter-regional cooperation NECSTourR and the Inter-regional Coordinating European Committee of the Via Francigena;
  • to support the European university network  EUNEK (European Network of Knowledge);
  • to promote the “Brand of the Cultural Routes” in the cooperation with the European Commission, the Council of Europe and the European Institute for the Cultural Itineraries of Luxembourg
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