The Council of Europe, the human rights and democracy organisation of Europe with 47 member states, is the patron of a unique cross-border cultural cooperation activity - the Council of Europe Cultural Routes programme.
This activity brings together organisations, local communities, research institutions, tourist organisations, and other actors around a project/theme related to Europe´s diverse culture and heritage and which is of interest to several European countries.
The Council of Europe Cultural Routes demonstrate very concretly how the heritage of the different countries of Europe represent a shared cultural heritage. The Cultural Routes are cultural and educational projects corresponding to a set of specific criteria(see the Resolution on Cultural Routes - Res(2007)12 - setting out these criteria in appendix).
The Council of Europe is now encouraging the creation of a Route of Roma Culture and Heritage. The objective of this Route will be to increase the knowledge of people in Europe about Roma history, culture, values and lifestyle, to encourage the contribution of Roma to Europe´s cultural diversity and ultimately contribute to giving a positive value to an image of Roma which are, more often than not, perceived in a negative and stereotyped way.
To achieve this, the Cultural Route should first develop as a network of organisations (associations, museums, cultural centres, art or education centres, festivals, etc;) which work together towards developing a common set of activities
As a second stage, the Route may evolve towards the development of tourist itineraries across different cities and territories of Europe, which would allow visitors to gain a more thorough and comprehensive understanding of Roma culture.
The Council of Europe will act as instigator and supporter of the Route of Roma Culture and Heritage. It will, together with the European Cultural Routes Institute in Luxembourg, provide technical advise for the development of the project, and assistance with fundraising, but will not be able to fund the implementation of the Route itself. Funding will be available for the initial stage of exploration and networking until the project is mature enough to be able to benefit from specific support by the European Commission or other parties.