The EFFORTS mission is to share expertise, promote cooperation and emphasize the significance of fortified heritage as a continuing connection to our common European history and as a condition for environmental, social, economic and spatial development, contributing to the EU’s goals in climate change adaptation.

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The EFFORTS priorities are:
• Dissemination of knowledge, internal and external
• Creating a European network of cities, fortification organizations and stakeholders
• Organizing access to sustainable funding and joint action opportunities for members
• Policy influencing

The EFFORTS vision is:
Military heritage forms a special part of our cultural heritage and consequently of the collective memory of Europe. Preservation and re-use of this heritage is important because of, the special architecture and engineering; the opportunities for strengthening the intercultural and international dialogue and the local challenges in the environmental and socio-economic field after the military departed. The EFFORTS motto is: from stronghold to welcoming arms.

Until 2017 an active European network of fortified towns, forts and lines of defence was non-existent so that this specific part of heritage was insufficiently represented in a European context.

Military structures, whether a walled town, citadel, castle and/or defence system, often have an isolated position within spatial context, because of their former strategic purposes. These fortified sites, being precious testimony to the collective memory, represent the congealed distrust of European countries through the ages that we have put aside.

There are many reasons why conservation and re-use of fortified sites is important:

      • Their historical importance in shaping European history;
      • Their architectural assets and engineering courage;
      • The opportunities they present to strengthen intercultural and international dialogue;
      • The recognition of major challenges for local restructuring due to the socio-economic impact that the departure of the military had on a site or city.
      • The conceptual attitudes towards cultural heritage at European level is undergoing a fundamental transformation: from an approach focused on conservation to a focus on value and green interpretation of heritage. Recently there has been a growing recognition of the all-inclusive nature of the historic environment, where tangible and intangible assets are no longer perceived as separate from one another.
      • During the 1990s the principle of sustainability was included more and more prominently in policy documents on cultural heritage, and more often combined with the objective of development.
      • In 2005 the Faro convention was adopted. This convention positions people and human values in the centre of a renewed understanding of cultural heritage.
      • In 2014 the Conclusions on Cultural Heritage as a Strategic Resource for a Sustainable Europe were adopted by the EU Council of Ministers, as well as by the paper “Towards an Integrated Approach to Cultural Heritage for Europe”.
      • In 2015 the EU report entitled “Getting Cultural Heritage to Work for Europe” set out recommendations for an innovative policy framework and agenda for cultural heritage-related research and innovation up to 2020.
      • The European Committee is aware of the importance of cultural heritage and 2018 is declared the European year of cultural heritage. It will present an opportunity to promote knowledge and understanding about cultural heritage, including fortified heritage. Through several EU programmes it is possible to acquire funding for sustainable use of cultural/fortified heritage.

This heritage should be better recognizable as a European asset. By joining forces and intensifying cooperation, sites, cities and regions can make a difference.

EFFORTS defends the interests of local and regional authorities and represents this important part of Europe’s history towards the EU institutions and beyond.

Working with representatives from all European countries, EFFORTS:

      • establishes a permanent European network of fortified heritage sites
      • sets up practical partnerships between scientific experts, policy makers, enterprises and practitioners in order to allocate means for innovative development of sites
      • provides an international exchange of information and research and expertise on innovative (re)use of fortified heritage
      • recognizes the tangible and intangible values and environmental, social and economic significance of fortified heritage
      • supports members in the development of fortification heritage
      • understands and promotes the regeneration and redevelopment of fortified sites and their surrounding urban and rural landscape
      • promotes accessibility for citizens and meaningful sustainable and green reuse of fortified heritage
      • highlights and raises the profile of fortified heritage, such as walled towns, fortresses and defensive lines

Board members 2024 (full and associate):


For all information, contact EFFORTS Secretary General, Rafaël Deroo

See our contact page for further details