Europe in My Region

Although the European Commission decided in 2014 to allow regions to manage European funds directly, these regions are struggling to communicate effectively. Yet this is a chance for Europe to establish a direct connection with citizens in local territories, by funding projects which bring cultural and economic renewal. (Picture: Wall painting, Lascaux Cave).

This is a repost of L’Europe soutient l’art pariétal : le projet Lascaux IV, originally published in French by Robin Alves (@AlvesRobin, also on Facebook and LinkedIn) and translated into English by the European Commission as part of the Europe in My Region 2016 blogging competition.

Dordogne is a rural department in south-western France, and many elected officials and technicians take part in daily reflections on the mechanisms of economic development. The attribution of European funds for the 2014-2020 has given rise to intense debate. Michel Dewit, principal administrator and programs manager, whose role includes following the Aquitaine region in Brussels, points out that the vast majority of funding goes towards research, innovation and economic development projects. In a rural department with a strong tourist industry, like Dordogne, which is less suited to these stakes, projects must be well targeted.

The Lascaux Cave, or the “Sistine Chapel of Cave Painting” is known for its Palaeolithic artwork, dating back over 17 000 years. Its amazing discovery by a group of teenage boys in 1940 brought the territory into the public eye. In 1963, the cave was closed to the public due to degradation. A reproduction was designed, and Lascaux II opened its doors in 1983, next to the original cave. The Lascaux III touring reproduction project, launched because of the site’s international prestige, now travels the world. Today, Europe is supporting the Lascaux IV project at the foot of the village of Montignac. The aim is to create a history centre modelled on the original cave, with every element designed to create a faithful copy. The walls, the paintings, the rock: everything will combine to create the perfect illusion, but the project actually consists of reproductions by 34 artists from the Périgord Facsimile Workshop.

For local players, it is first necessary to analyse the impacts for the territory. Tours and a full presentation were required, in order to move the project forwards and convince the European Commission of the relevance of funding it. The final overall cost of the project is 57 million euros. This money is mainly being provided by the department and the Region (each contributing 16.6 million), the European Union (12 million) and the State (4 million). Europe has granted a large sum. The Commission justifies this in the name of protecting and preserving exceptional historical heritage, under its axis 4: ecological and energy transition.

Thanks to Europe, Lascaux IV will thus become reality in October. I welcome this news, but I am saddened by the State’s lack of enthusiasm for this project and the opportunities it provides for developing culture, tourism and the economy in a territory like the department of Dordogne. Europe’s role is not to act as a replacement, but to become involved in targeted projects.


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