3.0 Development of an idea: why European data sharing is important

Section 2 has shown that there are problems for European-funded projects that simply seek to meet the funding criteria set down by European institutions by invoking periods in which Europe was 'united' in the past. These include problems found in the divisive nature of constructing a European identity or collective memory based on such a past. But it has also been suggested that there are considerable benefits in the creation of networks across Europe working together, in this case to make data available across national borders. The benefits of this activity need to be expanded upon if we are to justify attempts using the past to build today's Europe.

In 2004 Kilbride noted that 'better access to information could improve heritage management right across Europe, and be an impetus to better research and learning'. This is the impetus that lay behind the ARENA project – an impetus that was also driven by the recognition that contemporary nation states are a product of recent (in archaeological terms) cultural actions. Consequently research often needs to bridge boundaries that only serve to confuse our interpretation of the past.

The development of the European Union has seen the development of trans-national organisations that support archaeology and heritage management on a European scale, including the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA) as well as a number of EU-funded projects. However, European funding has been directed to fixed-length projects, many of which have little long-term impact. There has been a reluctance to use European funding to create services and long-term infrastructure, leaving this as a role for national institutions. Indeed it has also been argued (Stancic CAA 2004 conference keynote address) that national bodies have tended to use European funding to pursue their own agendas, irrespective of the trans-national goals.


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