The European Commission encourages its member countries to cooperate in conserving and safeguarding cultural heritage of European significance including cinema.

Cinematographic works are an essential component of our cultural heritage and identities and therefore deserve full protection. In addition to their cultural value, cinematographic works are a source of historical background on the evolution of European society. They provide a comprehensive record of the richness of Europe's cultural identities and the diversity of its people. In order to ensure that European film heritage is passed down intact to future generations, it has to be systematically collected, catalogued, preserved and restored.

European film heritage should be made accessible for non-commercial educational, academic, research and cultural purposes. Encouraging the exploitation of film heritage can contribute to the competitiveness of European film industry and to the implementation of the Digital Single Market. The Communication of the Commission on "Towards a modern, more European copyright framework" of December 2015 has acknowledged the importance of preserving, digitising and making available cultural heritage, particularly out-of-commerce works, as part of possible measures designed to increase availability of content, including across borders.

Recommendation of the EU

The Recommendation to Member States on film heritage calls for Europe's film heritage to be methodically collected, catalogued, preserved and restored so that it can be passed on to future generations. EU countries are asked to inform the Commission every two years of what they have done in this connection.

The first implementation report was published in August 2008, the second one in July 2010 and the third one in December 2012. The fourth implementation report was published on 2 October 2014 and analyses the contributions received from Member States.


The European Commission:

  • assists directly in efforts to protect film heritage, by periodically organizing meetings of the Cinema Expert Group, where experts from all film archives in the Europe exchange best practices and look for common solutions to their problems;
  • promotes European standardisation to achieve interoperability among film databases and catalogues in Europe;
  • investigates emerging opportunities and conditions for the exploitation of heritage films in the digital environment. To this aim, the Commission funded a study carried out by the European Audiovisual Observatory which was presented in the framework of the European Film Forum event in Bologna in June 2016.

Additional information