Each year millions of Euros are available for work, subject to match funding, involving the historic environment, but most of them do not emanate from the small EU “culture” budget. EH grants are sometimes used as match funding for other funding bids, thus maximising the availability of funding for a project or leveraging further funding from other sources.
EU Funding Programmes
European funding programmes are revised approximately every six years. The current funding round, 2007-13, offers less funding for the UK than previously, because of the enlargement of the EU to include countries from Central and Eastern Europe. Nevertheless there are still substantial opportunities for funds to assist the historic environment.
There is a small fund devoted to “culture”, but the majority of funding for cultural heritage work comes from other budget headings, such as the Structural funds, otherwise known as the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) or from the substantial Research budget (generally from the environment or ICT sections).
Local Authorities and EU Funding
In local authorities EU funding tends to be dealt with by economic development officers or departments, with an emphasis on job creation or structural work in the locality. The importance and relevance of the historic environment is often overlooked by those responsible for bidding for EU funds. Yet such improvements to the historic environment can lead to enhanced quality of life, help build sustainable communities, and improved tourism prospects. Trans-national partnerships, whilst sometimes complicated at the outset, can provide excellent staff development opportunities and improve local facilities.
At County Council level some archaeologists will be members of the ALGAO Europe group, which exchanges information about relevant EU funds and projects.
The document European Funding seeks to give some explanation of European funds with some relevance to the historic environment.