The origins of Archives Portal Europe
The origins of Archives Portal Europe are not only to be found in the start of the APEnet project in January 2009, but point back to the very beginning of the new millennium, when the idea of an "Internet Gateway for documents and archives in Europe" manifested itself in the following major documents published on European level:
- the "Resolution on archives in the Member States" adopted by the Council of Ministers on 6 May 2003 stressing the importance of archives for the understanding of the history and culture of Europe and for the democratic functioning of society within the framework of the enlargement of the Union on 1 May 2004;
- the "Report on Archives in the enlarged European Union" submitted by the Commission to the Council of Ministers in February 2005;
- the adoption of the "Council Recommendation on priority actions to increase cooperation in the field of archives in Europe" of 14 November 2005;
- the "Commission Recommendation on the digitisation and online accessibility of cultural material and digital preservation" issued on the 24 August 2006;
- the related "Council Conclusions on the Digitisation and Online Accessibility of Cultural Material, and Digital Preservation" of 13 November 2006, to endorse the strategic objectives and main elements of the EC Recommendation as well as the vision of a European Digital Library being a common multilingual access point to Europe’s distributed digital cultural and scientific heritage.
In joining the APEnet project (2009-2012), the participating National Archives and State administrations of archives took on the challenge brought by this to the cultural heritage domain in general and to the archival domain in particular. Additionally to these institutions’ dedication to the project and its product, the Archives Portal Europe, an important factor of APEnet’s success has been its strong connection to the main pan-European archival organisations, namely the European Board of National Archivists (EBNA), the European Archives Group (EAG) and the European Branch of the International Council on Archives (EURBICA).
While EBNA has in a way been the founder of the portal through the stating of five priority actions for the European archival domain - among which the creation of an archival portal -, the EAG has played an important role as EBNA’s counterpart within the European Commission. The active connection to the ICA (the International Council on Archives) furthermore led to the establishment of the APEnet Liaison Group within EURBICA, that - by explicitly addressing non-EU Member States - proved to be a major factor in the process of the Archives Portal Europe network evolving towards an inclusive future mainline activity for all European archival institutions.