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Co-ordination mechanisms for digitisation policies and programmes:

7th Official Meeting of the National Representatives Group (NRG)

The Hauge, 17th September 2004

Summary and objectives of the meeting
Key statements
Immediate actions (Septmber-December 2004)
Appendix: MINERVA progress

Summary and Objectives of the meeting

As part of the programme for the Netherlands Presidency 2004 of the European Union, the 7th meeting of the National Representatives Group (NRG) was held on 16th (evening) and 17th September in The Kurhaus in The Hague. On the 16th, all official NRG members joined a Group Decision Support Session on the future organisation of the coordination initiative. On the 17th, the regular half yearly NRG meeting took place.

Preceding the 7th NRG meeting a two days conference "Towards a Continuum of Digital Heritage - Strategies for a European Area of Digital Cultural Resources" was held. Both the NRG meeting and the conference were hosted by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and supported by the Minerva IST project.

The NRG consists of a group of national delegates (civil servants and managers of culture ministries, other ministries, IT managers of major national institutions and programmes), who were nominated by their permanent representatives for the EU. The NRG meets every six months, chaired by the current Council Presidency. Operative tasks are supported by two projects: Minerva and MinervaPlus. These projects are funded by the IST programme of the European Commission. Their members — many of whom are also members of the NRG — serve as technical experts and provide secretarial support for the NRG and for the implementation of the selected priorities and policies identified by the NRG.

At the forefront of the discussion during the 7th NRG meeting were the ambitions and future challenges of digitisation of European cultural heritage. Today, the coordination of digital heritage is faced with new important challenges:

  • to proceed by revisiting the current principles and the drafting of a new dynamic action plan, in order to be able to tackle new contexts and issues (e.g. copyrights, access, enrichment…);
  • to strategically integrate with its economic sectors of reference (such as culture, education, tourism, technology, research…), their policies and programmes, their policy-drivers (institutions, industries, users, general public, …) and their objectives in the enlarged Europe, to effectively integrate regions with different know-how and experience;
  • to produce relevant and visible European cultural added-value.

The end of 2005 is set to be the end of the current Action Plan for coordination of digitisation in Europe that was drawn up under Swedish EU Presidency in 2001, and of the funding for the Minerva and MinervaPlus IST projects.

Through the Lund Action Plan and Minerva(Plus), the Member States showed a strong commitment to a coordinated European heritage digitisation, after a relatively modest support by the European Commission.

Starting point for the 7th NRG meeting was that this commitment should be further developed over the next year in a more visible organisational entity with a clearer range and mandate that supports coordination actions and strategies in the near and longer future.

The NRG currently has a mixed connotation of a European network and a forum of (semi-)public authorities. These typically represent basic degrees of organisational mechanisms at European level, which may evolve to more organic ones, depending on the future commitment of the stakeholders.

The specific objectives of the meeting were to:

  • Introduce NRG to the Culture Council Work plan 2005-2006, including the agenda regarding the future coordination of digitisation;
  • Accelerate conceptualization of NRG's position by 1) identifying and prioritising digitisation obstacles and impediments as seen by the individual NRG members; 2) discussing existing and possible actors and actions for the future organisation of digitisation in Europe; 3) discussing possible EU organisational models for the future of the coordination initiative;
  • Report back to the NRG the progress made by the “Taskforce for the future Coordination Initiative” and the presentation of a building blocks documentwhich was prepared by The Netherlands EU Presidency.
  • Identify and prioritise emerging issues and identify concrete results. Recommend and endorse new strategies and actions to take these forward through NRG’s activities.
  • Identify and discuss the proposals put forward by the Luxembourg and UnitedKingdomPresidencies for the future sustainability of the coordination initiative.

NRG-progress since last meeting:

  • The Netherlands Presidency initiated the process to revisit the Lund Principles and the Action Plan, as well as the current organisation of the co-ordination initiative.
  • Building on the EU added-value position paper that was presented in Parma by the Netherlands representative, a conference was held in The Hague on the 15th and 16th September. Theme of the conference was the building of a European Area of Digital Cultural Resources. The conference addressed the quality and organisation of such an area and the strategic issues involved as well as current European assets and achievements, common viewpoints, and future actions and policies. A report of the conference including the 7th NRG meeting conclusions will be produced and distributed to all participants and NRG members by November 2004.
  • A Building Blocks document was prepared by the Netherlands Presidency in cooperation with the Taskforcefor thefuture of the Coordination Initiative to prepare discussion on the future organisation of NRG and MINERVA. The document proved a valuable input for the meeting and will be used as reference for future discussion.
  • All official NRG members participated in a Group Decision Support Session preceding the 7th NRG meeting. The outcomes were presented to all NRG members at the meeting on the 17th September. A comprehensive report will be made available for internal NRG use.
  • The Netherlands EU Presidency supported the ongoing activities of the Firenze expert workgroup on long term preservation. The expert workgroup, with the support of the Istituto Centrale per il Catalogo Unico in Rome, improved the community awareness, consensus and participation. The Netherlands EU Presidency presented the progress of the activities during the conference in The Hague on the 15th and 16th September. Two strategic reports were produced: a detailed position paper draws the current worldwide scenario and future possible strategies through identification of priorities and recommendations at the European level. An additional questionnaire responses summary presents a synthetic survey about the main on-going initiatives across Europe.
  • The Progress Assessment will be continued by the Irish partner in MINERVA Plus (WP7) and will assess the on-going work under the Netherlands Presidency and Luxembourg Presidency.The revised report will be circulated in December 2004. The final report will be launched at the end of the Luxembourg Presidency.
  • The activities of MINERVA in 2003-2004 were printed and distributed to NRG.
  • The 2nd NRG Report was distributed to all NRG members for circulation in their own countries.Members are encouraged to use the report to highlight and market digitisation initiatives. The 3rd NRG report is planned for December 2004, under the Netherlands Presidency.

Key Statements

  1. The Netherlands Presidency Agenda for Culture includes a proposal for a Workplan for Culture for 2005-2006. The workplan aims at an operational follow up in terms of addressees, tasks and timeframe. The agenda consists of 5 priorities to be implemented in 2005 and 2006. One of the priorities is the future coordination of digitisation. The proposed action calls for the proceeding with coordination through a dynamic action plan after 2005. Also it calls for a clear organisation of the actions. The European Commission is to strategically integrate digitisation with different sectors (culture, education, technology, research).
  2. Top-level generic domains make it possible to assess the origin, quality, and trustworthiness of internet resources. Ambiguity of top level domain names can not be solved by current instruments, such as resource location tools (e.g. Google). Top level domains like '.museum' have the opportunity to create an area / domain of guaranteed trustworthy digital sources. The NRG can contribute to the adoption of the '.dot.museum' TLD through its dissemination channels.
  3. The Florence agenda expert workgroup produced two reports on long term preservation that were presented at the conference on 15 and 16 September. Besides its research programmes possibilities, the European Commission takes no additional actions for digital preservation. Part of the work roll-out in research is stimulating meetings and networking sessions. EC anticipates two areas: coordination actions and testbeds. There may be some future additional horizontal possiblities: econtent+, public domain, etc.
  4. Next Presidencies: the Luxembourg EU Presidency will hold a conference and NRG-meeting in June 2005 (tentative). Special focus will be on digital preservation (review progress of Florence agenda). The United Kingdom EU Presidency will continue actions regarding the NRG framework. It will support the revision of the current Lund Action Plan. Focus will be a.o. on access and users (eLearning and eInclusion ) and building on current practical initiatives.
  5. NRG appreciates the work done by MINERVA in the past months, which is described in the appendix (MINERVA Progress).


  • A draft action plan for future coordination actions (2006 et sq) will be prepared by the Netherlands, Luxembourg and United Kingdom EU presidencies in close cooperation with the Taskforce, before the next NRG meeting in June 2005. The final action plan is to be decreed by a Council resolution under the UK EU Presidency.
  • Parallel, a proposal for nomination (or reconfirmation of that nomination) of the NRG members with new Terms of Reference, to reinforce the mandate of the future NRG, will be prepared before and discussed in the next NRG meeting. Parallel, a proposal for nomination (or reconfirmation of that nomination) of the NRG members with new Terms of Reference, to reinforce the mandate of the future NRG, will be prepared before and discussed in the next NRG meeting.
  • If advisable, the NRG will be consulted on both items in an interim meeting early 2005 to be organised by the Luxembourg EU Presidency.
  • The digitisation-specific workprogramme/Lund-update together with the renewed NRG structure will be put as a request through the Council by December 2005, to reinforce the mandate of NRG in its new context and to kick off the new action plan.

Immediate actions (September– December 2004)

  • Cultural Heritage Convention CoE: NRG is invited by the UK-representative to submit proposals and amendments of articles 2 and 14 of the Convention to the UK-representative, to be delivered to the CoE.
  • NRG status report: NRG will receive instructions by October 2004 for their contributions to the NRG status report 2004.
  • Council Work Plan for Culture 2006-2007:NRG is advised to contact their permanent representative in CAC to be informed about and support the digitisation actions in the draft Work Plan for Culture 2005-2006.

APPENDIX MINERVA progress since the 6th NRG meeting in June 2004


  • MINERVA is now establishing contacts with South Eastern European countries, joining EU from 2007 onwards and already involved in several international initiatives and EUprogrammes. Among them, the South Eastern European Digitisation Initiative is worth to be mentioned. The Network for digitisation of scientific and cultural heritage has been established, under the Lund Principles, and officially launched on the occasion of the International Conference “New technologies and standards: digitisation of cultural heritage” (Belgrade, 3-5 June), where a representative of MINERVA participated.
  • An important cooperation is fostered with UNESCO Information for all programme.
  • MINERVA participated to the last conferences in Petropavlovsk Kamchatsky (September 2003), in San Petersburg (June 2004) and further interventions are expected during the coming months.
  • Through the participation to international conferences and seminars, a wide dissemination of the NRG/MINERVA recommendations and guidelines is taking place. Just since the last Dublin meeting, during the summer period, MINERVA participated to the following events: ICA Conference (Vienna), International Seminar on Digitisation of cultural and scientific heritage (Bansko, Bugaria), ICHIM 2004 (Berlin).
  • During the next months of 2004, MINERVA will participate to the following events:
    • 28th September 2004, Salzburg (Austria): eCulture Symposium
    • 11th -13th October 2004, Jerusalem (Israel): EVA Jerusalem
    • 27th October 2004, Rome (Italy): Bibliocom 2004
    • 12th November 2004, Berlin (Germany): EVA Berlin
    • 29th -30th December 2004, Moscow (Russia): EVA Moscow


  • MINERVA booklet: Digitising content together: Ministerial Network for Valorising Activities in Digitisation Activities 2003 - 2004
  • Online publications:
    • Charter of Parma in German and Slovak
    • Good practices handbook translations in French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Slovak
    • 10 Quality Principles translations in Estonian, Spanish, French, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Slovene, English
    • Quality Principles Handbook: guidance on applying the 10 Quality Principles
    • Technical Guidelines for Digital Cultural Content Creation Programmes in English, French and Italian

Spin-off projects:

  • MICHAEL: Multilingual Inventory of Cultural Heritage in Europe
  • EURIDICE: EuropeanRecommended materials for Distance Learning Courses for Educator (under negotiation)

Working Groups:

  • WP3 – Inventories, discovery of digitised content, multilingualism issues Survey about Multilingual websites and thesauri Coordinated by Hungary
    • Mapping multilingual access to cultural content
    • Identifying multilingual thesauri
    • Sharing best practices
    236 answers from 21 countries + 4 offline summaries Preliminary results available on the Internet at: http://www.mek.oszk.hu/minerva/survey

    Next steps: complete the survey, analyse the results, identify best practices, disseminate the findings
  • WP4 – Interoperability and Service Provision Inspection of the European legislation regarding Intellectual Property Rights Coordinated by Greece First Draft Report on IPR European Legislation covers:
    • European Legislation, Background, Conventions, Organizations
    • Description of the EU Copyright Directive
    • National implementation of the Directive’s suggestions
    Preliminary results available online, on the Minerva website (www.minervaeurope.org) as wp4ipr040806.pdf Next steps: Study of the available technological solutions and research for the establishment of an appropriate metadata set concerning IPR
  • WP5 – Identification of user needs, content and quality framework for common access points & Small cultural institutions Coordinated by Belgium and Germany
    • Public launch of the MINERVA Quality Principles Handbook at ICHIM 2004 Berlin
    • Focused discussion with about 30 Participants from: Museums, Archives, Universities, Research centres, Associations
    The Handbook is available online, on the Minerva website (www.minervaeurope.org) as qualitycommentary040622draft.pdf Next steps: publication of the Handbook, translations and dissemination of the Minerva Quality Principles for cultural websites
  • WP6 – Identification of good practices and competence centres Study about Cost Reduction Coordinated by Israel
    • Literary survey completed in August 2004.
    Survey results available online, on the Minerva website (www.minervaeurope.org) Next steps: survey of projects, workshop in Sweden in January 2005.


Copyright Minerva Project 2004-11, last revision 2004-11-04, edited by Minerva Editorial Board.
URL: www.minervaeurope.org/structure/nrg/documents/thehauge.htm
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