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Path: Home | Structure | NRG | Documents | Charter of Parma | Charter of Parma Final


Charter of Parma

Final version 19 November 2003


This Document continues and supports the fundamental Principles of Lund.

The Group of the National Representatives appointed by the national Authorities for Culture in the European Union met in Parma on the 19th of November 2003 and agreed on the following premises and articles, which all together constitute this Document. It must be intended as an evolving paper which integrates other initiatives such as Brussels Quality Framework, and is open to improvements until the needs here represented will be fully satisfied. Its implementation will be carried on within the framework provided by the Lund Action Plan, the regular meetings of the NRG, operationally supported by Minerva European network.

The enormous richness of the cultural and scientific heritage in Europe demands that the highest attention is paid to its preservation and valorisation. The advent of the Information Society and the diffusion of the new information and communication technologies are affecting the policies of the Member States on their initiatives for cultural and scientific heritage.

Digitisation is an essential step that the European cultural institutions should make, aiming at preserving and valorising Europe's collective cultural heritage, at safeguarding cultural diversity, at providing improved access for the citizen to that heritage, at enhancing education and tourism and at contributing to the development of the new digital content and service industries. To make such initiatives truly successful, economic and sustainable over time, several needs have been identified:

  • a strong need exists for political and institutional strategies and for their harmonisation, including the need for a better awareness of what is going on in other countries (and within countries) at policy, programme and project level;

  • guidelines and examples of best practice are needed in order to improve the cost-effectiveness and quality of the digitisation initiatives;

  • the use of standards which support interoperability needs to be promoted in order to improve the access to digitised resources through Europe;

  • the creation of a focal point is needed, in order to contribute to a real European coordination of national policies for digitisation of cultural content;

  • the New Accession Countries can benefit from sharing experiences with the current European countries, in order to work together on the existing common strengths, to exploit together larger opportunities, to identify together weaknesses in order to help form the research agenda.

Taking in consideration all the above premises, the National Representatives Group commits on the realisation of the aims as described in the following articles

  • Article 1 - Intelligent use of new technologies
    The National Representatives Group will support cultural institutions in Europe in their work towards a widespread diffusion of culture and knowledge through an appropriate use of the new technologies with a special reference to the Internet and the Web.

  • Article 2 - Accessibility
    The National Representatives Group recognises accessibility as a fundamental issue for all citizens, irrespective of age or level of technical understanding. A special priority will be given to people with particular needs. For this reason, the requirements of accessibility in its different aspects will be integrated into all guidelines and recommendations promoted by the Group. These requirements will be developed in the context of international standards for accessibility, as the recommendations produced by the World Wide Web Consortium and others.

  • Article 3 - Quality
    The National Representatives Group will give a special attention to the implementation of high quality standards in cultural and scientific web applications. It will disseminate and promote the results achieved through Minerva and support public awareness-raising events and training initiatives.

  • Article 4 - IPR and privacy
    The NRG recognises the importance of the balancing the right of access to the scientific and cultural heritage with the need to respect Intellectual Property Rights and the privacy of the individual. For this purpose it will encourage the adoption of all the available technical and legal instruments to improve accessibility and overcome legislative and normative barriers.. It will encourage a dialogue between the cultural and scientific sectors, IPR experts, companies implementing Digital Rights Management solutions and the Content Industries.

  • Article 5 - Interoperability and standards
    The National Representatives Group is committed to ensuring that all citizens can easily find the contents that meet their needs. For this reason, it will encourage the adoption of technical guidelines and open standards to enable the building of e-services that promote an integrated and comprehensive view of Europe's scientific and cultural heritage.

  • Article 6 - Inventories and multilingualism
    The National Representatives Group recognises that the knowledge of existing repositories and available resources as well as the careful monitoring of new developments in this sector are necessary prerequisites for the realisation of services to the European citizens. These services aim to make available digital resources of cultural and scientific interest. Complementary to the knowledge about repositories and digital resources, it is fundamental to define a sustainable technical infrastructure, coordinated at European level, for discovery of and access to these resources, within a fully multilingual environment. The National Representatives Group is committed to contribute to these priorities.

  • Article 7 - Benchmarking
    The National Representatives Group recognises the important value of the benchmarking activities, with particular regard to the following objectives:
    • to improve the knowledge of the others;
    • to monitor advance as well as emergence of obstacles, through the analysis of what is happening in the other countries;
    • to foster the participation of the cultural institutions, stimulating them to present themselves, their policies, programmes and projects.
    For this scope, the NRG promotes campaigns of data collections in each of the participating countries and encourages the publishing of regular reports about results and analysis of the gathered data. Through Minerva, the instrument for answering the benchmarking questionnaires are available on-line together with real-time statistics referring to the answered questionnaires.

  • Article 8 - Cooperation at national, European and International levels
    Cooperation will be looked for and established with national, European and International institutions and organisations, which deals with preservation and valorisation of cultural and scientific heritage. In particular, the NRG commits to ensuring that:
    • the national institutions nominate experts to participate on a permanent basis to the existing working groups;
    • the Member States consider the NRG and the Minerva network as a point of reference, in a prospect of growth and continuous renewal.
    The NRG will work to strengthen cooperation between national and European programmes, with the objective to optimise the use of financial resources, to share good practices and to promote new common initiatives. In particular, the NRG asks the European Commission:
    • to maintain the support to NRG and Minerva until the needs expressed in this Charter have been covered,
    • to refer to the NRG activities in the definition and implementation of its programmes for the support to the European culture.

  • Article 9 - Enlargement
    The NRG, supported by the Minerva network, is an open community. A twin-track approach will be developed of enlargement to new countries and new sectors of the civil society.
    In particular, due to specific International agreements concluded by the European Union, the enlargement to the following countries will be a priority: NAS, Russia, Israel and Mediterranean countries, USA and Canada. In any case the network is open to all interesting countries.
    Concrete relationships with the following sectors will also be established, through the establishment of specific Cooperation Agreements:
    • with the private business and industrial sector, particularly with the software, media and content industry as well as IPR protection organisations;
    • with the tourism sector;
    • with the educational sector;
    • with the research and academic sectors.

  • Article 10 - Building the future together: at the forefront of the knowledge society
    The emerging on-line cultural portals represent a very important component in the development of an inclusive Information Society. These portals need to be built on a firm foundation of good quality, interoperable, cultural sector websites, developed to meet the real needs of European citizens. A multitude of different actors, with different skills, interests and economic resources are demanded to meet with the common goal of implementing sustainable services of public interest. These implementations should happen within a joint and coordinated approach of all heritage domains. The NRG will play a leading / central role in this process, by fostering and supporting initiatives that aim to:
    • promote collaboration between national and regional services,
    • encourage the adoption of successful models in other countries and regions,
    • developing eServices for culture, meeting the needs of learners, tourists and citizens, as well as the cultural and creative industries,
    • implementing trans-European cultural and scientific portals, based on distributed systems.


The policy background

The following actions are considered as extremely important in the aim of paving the ground for the Charter to succeed:

  • eEurope 2002 - Accessibility of Public Web Sites and their Content - seeks to bring European citizens on-line in all aspects of their lives, allowing them to participate in and benefit from the possibilities offered by digital technologies;

  • eEurope 2005 aims to stimulate secure services, applications and content based on a widely available broadband infrastructure and seeks to ensure that "Museums, libraries, archives and similar institutions that play a key role in elearning should also be connected to broadband networks"

  • Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the Harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the Information Society (2001/29/CE);

  • Commissioner Liikanen called in COM(2001) 529, Commission and Member States to adopt by the end of 2001 the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) Guidelines, produced by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C);

  • Council Resolution of 21 January 2002 on culture and the knowledge society (2002/C 32/01) encourages the European Commission and the Member States to facilitate cooperation and to exchange information and good practice at European level; to ensure accessibility to digital contents by every citizen of the European Union; quality-initiatives in cultural web sites; and Council Resolution of 21 January 2002 on the role of culture in the development of the European Union (2002/C 32/02) remarks the strategic role of culture;

  • Council Resolution on Preserving Tomorrow's memory - Preserving Digital Content for future generations of the 25 June 2002 (2002/C/162/02);

  • Council of Europe decided that 2003 be The Year of The Disabled and highlighted the accessibility of public web sites and their content;

  • the European Union is now preparing for its biggest enlargement ever in terms of scope and diversity: 10 new countries are set to join on 1st May 2004, bringing to 25 the number of Members.

The strategic background

In the light of the needs and the European political evolution depicted above, the following actions have been taken:

  • on April 2001 the European representatives encountered in Lund, under the auspices of the Swedish Presidency in turn and of the European Commission, and agreed to become the guardian of the Lund Principles for the digitisation of the cultural and scientific contents. For this purpose they established a permanent group of representatives of the national authorities, further named National Representatives Group (NRG) and the implementation framework for the coordination mechanisms for digitisation policies and programmes further named Lund Action Plan.

  • on March 2002 the Minerva project was launched with the support of the European Commission and the coordination of the Italian Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities, constituting the operative framework for the implementation of the Lund Action Plan and hosting the secretariat of the NRG.

  • in April 2003 Minerva submitted a proposal to extend the Minerva network to the New Accession States, Russia and Israel, creating the Minerva Plus project. The proposal was positively evaluated by the Commission and the project will start in early 2004.

The ensemble of these actions represents the fundamental background of this Charter, whose aims will be to promote and support the principles for which the National Representatives and the Minerva network stand.

The state of the art

Some steps ahead have already been made by successive Presidencies, the NRG, Minerva and the Commission.
With particular regard to the theme of Quality, this Charter would acknowledge and make reference to the following achievements:

  • the Brussels Quality Framework, representing the first document of reflection;
  • the Principles for Quality Cultural Web Sites, ten key points for improving the quality of cultural websites for citizens;
  • the Handbook for the Quality of Cultural Web Sites, an in depth manual targeted to European cultural institutions, with particular regard to the small ones;
  • the Conference on the Future of Digital Memory and Cultural Heritage, held in Florence on the 16th and 17th of October 2003;
  • the International Conference on the Quality for Cultural Web Sites, held in Parma on the 20th and the 21st of November 2003.

Concerning the theme of the Good Practices and sharing of knowledge, this Charter would acknowledge and make reference to the following achievements:

  • the Handbook on Good Practices in Digitisation, gathering a set of practical lessons learnt and existing guidelines, disseminated and discussed during the workshop on Digitisation: what to do and how to do it, held in Rome on the 29th of October 2003;
  • the Minerva Knowledge Base, an on-line service under development aimed at making available on the Internet, to citizens and to professionals: contacts, documents, papers, lectures, fora, newsletters, announcements of events, with the ultimate scope of representing a fundamental tool for the establishment of the envisaged community;
  • the 1st Progress Report of the National Representatives Group - Coordinating digitisation in Europe, published and distributed at the NRG meeting in Corfu on the 26th of June 2003;
  • the 1st Meeting of the European Networks for Culture, held in Rome on the 30th of October 2003.

The national representatives

AUSTRIA: Hans Petschar - Österreichische Nationalbibliothek

BELGIUM: Isabelle Dujacquier - Ministère de la Communauté française de Belgique
Debbie Esmans - Ministerie van de Vlaamse gemeenschap

DENMARK: Christian Ertmann-Christiansen - Cultural Heritage Agency

FINLAND: Vesa Hongisto - National Board of Antiquities

FRANCE : Jean-Pierre Dalbera - Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication

GERMANY: Monika Hagedorn-Saupe - Institut für Museumskunde
Gerald Maier - Landesarchivdirektion Baden - Württemberg

GREECE: Theodore Papatheodorou - University of Patras, HPCLAB

IRELAND: Anne Grady - National Museum of Ireland Collins Barracks

ITALY: Rossella Caffo - Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali

LUXEMBOURG: Frank Guy - Ministry of Culture, Higher Education and Research

THE NETHERLANDS: Marius Snyders - Ministry of Culture

PORTUGAL: Lidia Jacob - Ministry of Culture

SPAIN: Ana Álvarez Lacambra - RED.ES (on behalf of Ministerio de Ciencia y Tec.)

SWEDEN: Borje Justrell - National Archives

UNITED KINGDOM: David Dawson - Resource. The Council for Museums,Archives and Libraries



Copyright Minerva Project 2003-11, last revision 2005-07-04, edited by Minerva Editorial Board.
URL: www.minervaeurope.org/structure/nrg/documents/charterparma031119final.htm
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