Handbook of Cultural and Heritage Management


4.1. National legislation principles regarding heritage and culture

In order to better function locally and to collaborate transnationally, it is essential to have a thorough idea of culture-related legislation in our own country as well as a brief idea of the legislative framework in other countries. Here you can find some basic information about heritage management in three major EU countries, as they often act as “exponents” of ideas and models of cultural and heritage management, as well as a more detailed one about DEN-CuPID partner countries.


Major EU countries: France, Germany and the UK



The French system of cultural heritage management is centralized and controlled by the Ministry of Culture. Research, conservation and management of monuments has to be approved by it. However, there are also decentralized services. All three stakeholders (i.e. the state authorities, local authorities and specialized researchers) work together on management plans and cultural policies. The main sectors are divided as following: a) cultural heritage, b) artistic creation, c)media and creative industries, d)accessible culture, e) transversal policies and f) languages. Regarding heritage, the Ministry has four main directories (Bureaux), namely those dealing with: a) Archives, b) Museums, c) Architecture, d) Tangible and Intangible Cultural Heritage. The latter section is responsible for all historic monuments and archaeological sites.

All management aspects of cultural heritage assets are regulated by the “Heritage Law” (Code du Patrimoine), last modified in July 2017. (Code du Patrimoine, 2017).

A major problem in France regarding material heritage is the large amount of privately owned historic buildings. As their maintenance become unaffordable to the owners, the state is trying to  find ways to support them find ways of sustainable existence for their properties.


Authorities, organizations

Ministère de la Culture: http://www.culture.gouv.fr/

Section Patrimoine: http://www.culture.gouv.fr/Thematiques/Archeologie/L-archeologie-en-France

Centre des Monuments Nationaux: https://www.monuments-nationaux.fr/

Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine: https://www.citedelarchitecture.fr/

Fondation du Patrimoine: https://www.fondation-patrimoine.org/

Legislative documents

Code du Patrimoine, 2017:





Germany is a federal state and this shapes and defines its legislation and policies on heritage and culture. Besides some state authorities and general principles valid on a national level, each member of the confederation has its own laws and criteria for establishing heritage protection and cultural activities. The supreme authority is the Federal Ministry of Culture. A national service of monuments (Landesdenkmalamt) offers advice regarding heritage management even to private owners. A National Committee for the Protection of Monuments (Deutsches Nationalkomitee für Denkmalschutz) has been active for the past 40 years as an intermediary between state and private organizations, including church authorities, institutions, associations, etc., in order to propagate best practices, to educate the public and to establish actions for raising public awareness. Large part of heritage and cultural management in Germany lies with the municipal authorities, which emphasize the need for involvement of all stakeholders, as cultural assets are strongly considered as belonging to all.

The basic guidelines of heritage management in Germany, elaborated by the central government, are conservative in principle, aiming at maintaining authenticity and at emphasizing culture and heritage as a public commodity. 


Authorities and Organizations

Deutsches Nationalkomitee für Denkmalschutz: http://www.dnk.de/

Detailed list of regional heritage authorities: http://www.dnk.de/Denkmalfachbehrden/n2293

Initiative Kultur- und Kreativwirtschaft: http://www.kultur-kreativ-wirtschaft.de/KUK/Navigation/DE/Home/home.html



United Kingdom

Although the forthcoming Brexit will take the UK out of the sphere of the EU, it is not possible not to examine the cultural and heritage policies of this country, mainly because, at an academic level at least, it still constitutes a great pool of ideas, regulations, practices and policies, which affect, partly, those of other countries. The Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is the ministry responsible for all cultural activities, including large part of heritage. However some activities on local heritage are regulated also by the Department for Communities and Local Government. The main authority for Cultural Heritage Management in the UK is the organization English Heritage. All decisions and administrative measures are to be found on-line at www.english-heritage.org.uk [last accessed 13/9/2016]. English Heritage functions as an “Institutional state counselling organization”; since 2010 only 2/3 of its functional costs are covered by the state budget and in 2014 it was divided in two parts: a) Historic England which is responsible for the technical part of management, i.e. conservation and restoration, and which has now become part of the Ministry of Public Works, and b) English Heritage, which is responsible for enhancement, which has to become economically viable and independent by the end of 2019. The English Heritage is responsible for drafting the National Heritage Protection Plan, a general plan for the protection of all heritage assets (2012). Almost simultaneously was issued also the Asset Management Plan, focusing on the effective and viable economic management of tangible heritage assets. Apart from the English Heritage there are also regional organizations (Historic Scotland, Historic Wales, Historic N. Ireland), with a thought to deliver to them full control over their local assets.

In general, British cultural policies are more oriented towards the private sector, be it in the field of management or in that of funding. The major feature of British cultural management is involvement of all stakeholders through public consultations on legislative measures and plans. Heritage management in particular is based on a liberalist model, aiming at rendering all relevant managing authorities self-sustained and self-governed. The British model is therefore essentially different from, if not opposing to, models of countries such as Italy, Greece, Cyprus, France or Germany. However, as their policies are revised roughly every 5 years, there is always a margin for changing regulations and adjusting to new exigencies.


Authorities and Organizations

Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sports: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-digital-culture-media-sport

English Heritage: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/  

Historic England: https://historicengland.org.uk/

Historic Environment Scotland: https://www.historicenvironment.scot/

Historic Wales: http://historicwales.gov.uk/

Historic Northern Ireland: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sites-and-monuments

Legislative documents

National Heritage Protection Plan Framework: https://historicengland.org.uk/images-books/publications/nhpp-plan-framework/  (followed by research 2011-2015)

Asset Management Plan: https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/content/imported-docs/a-e/eh-amp-nov2011.pdf



DEN-CuPID partner countries



Greece has a centralized system of cultural and heritage management. Cultural issues are mostly regulated by the Ministry of Culture and Sports. It controls the majority of funds destined for cultural activities and heritage preservation. However, Regional Authorities are currently evolving into the second largest pool of funding and project distribution in the field of culture and heritage.

As far as cultural heritage assets are concerned, these are administered by the Ministry’s Regional Services, namely the “Ephorates”. To a lesser extent other ministries, such as the Ministry of Environment and Energy and the Ministry of Tourism, are also involved in parts of the heritage management process. The “archaeological law” 3028/2002 (ΦΕΚ Α΄153) (Κάτσος, 2003, Λένος, 2003) regulates the major issues related to tangible and intangible heritage. The law establishes that all management plans of heritage sites and points of interest need to have as leading part of their stakeholders’ council the local Ephorate of Antiquities or other regional service of the Ministry of Culture. The Ministry is responsible also for updating the List of Protected Monuments and Sites, for composing  the National Archive of Monuments, which runs projects for the digitization of Greek cultural endowment , and for drafting the Archaeological Cadastre, a systematic documentation, classification and digitization of archaeological sites and monuments based on GIS; finally the Archaeological Resources’ Fund, responsible for a vast range of activities, from expropriation of properties of archaeological significance to the production and distribution of archaeological guidebooks, cards and sales’ items for the museum stores of state museums and archaeological sites.

Last but not least, as in other countries, the Church is a major stakeholder of tangible cultural heritage, as many monasteries and churches date from Byzantine or Post-Byzantine times; the ones that are still functioning are under the jurisdiction of church authorities along with that of the Ministry of Culture and Sports.

Greece is considered a “source” country for illegal trafficking of antiquities, hence its management system for its tangible heritage is based on the notion of “protection”. The general approach is therefore essentially a “top down” one, with state, regional or church authorities controlling major part of this heritage.


Authorities, organizations and major stakeholders

Ministry of Culture and Sports: www.yppoa.gr

Ministry of Environment and Energy: www.ypeka.gr

Ministry of Tourism: www.mintour.gr

National Archive of Monuments: nam.culture.gr/portal/page/portal/deam/deam

Permanent List of Monuments and Archaeological Sites: http://listedmonuments.culture.gr

Archaeological Resources’ Fund: http://www.tap.gr

Legislative Documents

Archaeological Law 3038/2002 (ΦΕΚ Α’ 153)  https://www.forin.gr/laws/law/2795/gia-thn-prostastia-twn-arxaiothtwn-kai-en-genei-ths-politistikhs-klhronomias




In Italy culture constitutes the major touristic asset of the country as well as a high identity-building factor for all citizens.  The country is renowned both for its high-end culture, such as Music, Theatre and the Arts and for its heritage, both tangible and intangible. Italian heritage protection has evolved according to the evolution of the law and the more general international circumstances. It is important to remind that Italy counts 53 entries in the World Heritage List of UNESCO, most than any other country in the world. This endowment requires a complex management system. The problem with the overall evolution of Italian law is fragmentation, non-clear distribution of competences between regions and state, and repeated innovations which depend much on ministerial decisions.

The first law about heritage preservation was law 1089/1939 (also known as Bottai’s law) which basically put the basis about the concrete artistic objects to be preserved. It further introduced the concept of public enjoyment of the artistic works as part of public life. This law was revised over the years.

In 2004, was introduced the law n.106, emphasizing the role of management both of public and of private assets and monuments. This law discerns three categories of monuments: strictly public, public which can be assigned to private sector under specific conditions and public which can be assigned to the private sector following a simple process. Plus, the law introduces the concept of immaterial heritage (including also digital items). The general underlying philosophy of law n.106 is about the introduction of the private sector in the management system, against the rigid and non-creative public administration of cultural heritage. In many cases decisions have to be taken by interdisciplinary committees of experts, usually including academics as well.

Recent interventions in terms of cultural heritage laws have been aimed at enhancing free circulation of artistic pieces within European Union, at fully implementing UNESCO international regulations, as well as at better integrating public financing systems with private initiatives. In particular, law 104/2014 (so-called Art Bonus law) deeply innovated the public heritage system, accepting systems of crowd-funding, and consistent forms of support in terms of tax credit to private donations. The Ministry empowered an in-house private platform to implement artistic and cultural projects (http://www.ales-spa.com/), already existing since 2004.


Italian authorities and organizations

Ministero dei beni e delle attività culturali e del turismo: URL: http://www.beniculturali.gov.it/

Istituto Superiore di Restauro di Beni Culturali: URL: www.icr.beniculturali.it

ICCROM:  International Center for the Study on the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property: URL: http://www.iccrom.org/

Legislative documents

Law 106/2004: http://www.lexitalia.it/leggi/l_2004-106.htm

Law 104/2014: http://artbonus.gov.it/la-normativa.html




Cultural heritage in Spain is protected under the law 16/1985. Spain is divided in federal states and administrative units and the local governments are mostly responsible for drafting cultural policies. The central Ministry of Culture is responsible for monuments and sites belonging to the “National Cultural Endowment”. Apart from taking care of the monuments and the protection of tangible and intangible cultural heritage, the Ministry is also responsible for fostering international projects and culture and heritage. However, the existence of Cultural Heritage Institutes in each federal district constitutes collaboration and drafting of common policies on a national level sometimes difficult. [http://www.heritageportal.eu/Resources/EU-Countries/Spain.html, retr. 1/9/2016]

 The measures taken and policies drafted are mainly envisaging economic development and not so much the protection and enhancement of heritage. Spain is one of the countries in which major heritage assets can be privatized, sold and transformed into businesses without legal restrictions. 


Authorities and organizations

Ministerio Español de Educación Cultura y Deporte (in English) /www.mecd.gob.es/portada-mecd/en/

Legislative Documents

Law 16/1985 on the Spanish Historical Heritage (Official State Bulletin of 29 June)




Bulgaria is centralized regarding its cultural heritage. The Ministry of Culture is the supreme authority dealing both with heritage issues and with creative industries. The Ministry of Education and Science and the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works are also responsible for some aspects of cultural life. In 2009 was adopted the Act on Cultural Heritage, giving priority to cultural heritage maintenance and protection and obliging local authorities to undertake relevant works of restoration and maintenance. Digitization and effective, sustainable management are also within the agenda of the Act. A major consulting body is the National Council for the Protection of the Monuments of Culture. Archives are entrusted to the care of the National Archives Council.


Authorities and organizations

Ministry of Culture: http://mc.government.bg

Legislative Documents

A synopsis of Bulgarian Laws on heritage and culture can be found here: https://www.eui.eu/Projects/InternationalArtHeritageLaw/Bulgaria


International Art Heritage Law

The European University Institute has created a database combining legislative measures in each EU country as well as information on the international regulations that each country abides to. It is therefore a useful tool to consult.