The protection and enhancement of European cultural heritage in all its forms - architectural heritage, cultural landscapes, works of art and archaeological sites, and their related tangible and intangible aspects - are among the priorities of the European Union's Culture 2000 Programme. The European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage was launched in 2002 by the European Commission as part of the implementation of its Culture 2000 Programme. Europa Nostra was selected as the organisation responsible for the running of this Scheme on the basis of its long experience in publicly recognising excellence in the field of heritage.

The purpose of this European Heritage Awards Scheme is to promote high standards of conservation practice, to stimulate the exchange of knowledge and experience throughout Europe, to enhance public awareness and appreciation of European cultural heritage, and to encourage further exemplary initiatives through the Power of Example.

Outstanding heritage achievements will be awarded six monetary Prizes of €10 000 each, in addition to Medals and Diplomas in each of the following categories:

  1. Conservation of:
    • Architectural heritage
    • Landscapes
    • Works of art
    • Archaeological sites
  2. Studies in the field of cultural heritage conservation
  3. Dedicated Service to heritage conservation by individuals or groups

Criteria for the assessment of entries include excellence in the work executed and preliminary research conducted, as well as respect for artistic, cultural and social value, setting, authenticity and integrity. Special attention will also be paid to sustainability, interpretation and presentation, educational work, funding and management, and social responsibility. Entries can be on a scale ranging from small to large, local to international, and should display a standard of work which would be considered outstanding in a European context.

Buildings and sites must be accessible to the public. Projects and studies must have been completed within the last three years (September 2003 - September 2006). The completeness and the presentation of the dossier will be taken into account.