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    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008 edited
     
    Welcome. Join us in a debate about where Europe has come from and where it should be heading to. As the European Union approaches its ‘50th birthday’ — the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome — it seems to many of us that Europe has lost the plot. Europeans badly need a new story that we can tell in our different languages and idioms.

    I have drafted a first proposal for a new way in which we could tell our story around six goals to which most Europeans aspire: Freedom, Peace, Law, Prosperity, Diversity and Solidarity.

    You can read the English version in Prospect magazine. Versions published in other European languages will be posted as soon as they appear.

    This is only one writer’s first draft. The story is no good unless enough Europeans think it is pointing in the right direction. Please join in the debate. Feel free to use any European language you like.

    The discussion is completely free, but it will be followed by a group of our European students here at Oxford. We will remove anything that is downright obscene or constitutes incitement to hatred, and may tidy up the formatting, but otherwise we will leave posts exactly as they come.

    If there is sufficient interest, we may start new threads on particular issues. If it turns out that people are not interested, that will be a kind of European story too.

    Come and join the debate.

    Best wishes

    Timothy Garton Ash
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    """""Nor should our sense of European togetherness be achieved by the negative stereotyping of an enemy or "other" (in the jargon of identity studies), as Britishness, for example, was constructed in the 18th and 19th centuries by contrast with a stereotyped France."""""

    Great idea.

    ""Europeanisation is generally a less homogenising version of globalisation than is Americanisation."""

    ""Europe's social democrats and Christian democrats agree that a market economy should not mean a market society. There must be no American-style, social Darwinian capitalist jungle here, with the poor and weak left to die in the gutter.""

    """To be poor, old and sick in Europe's wild east is no more pleasant than it is to be poor, old and sick in America's wild west.""""

    """Our agricultural protectionism is as bad as anyone's, and the EU is responsible, with the US, for the shameful stalling of the Doha round of world trade talks."""

    But it's still Ok to Bash the USA?

    No where do you bash Islamic, communist nor facist countries? Europeans favor Islamofacists like hezbollah and Iran, communist countries like China prescisely because your european values are closer to theirs then to America's. You are falling in the great Euro tradition of Anti Americanism. Read some old nazi propaganda, they sound like todays euro bashing America, and you too.

    Once you start bashing America then it becomes OK to support the Iraqi ""resistance"" hizbollah and other Jew and American killers in the grand Euro tradition. Your leaders see Chavez and talk about a ""Multipolar World""counter balancing the unipolar USA.

    Timothy Ash is another Euro Serf enabling Euro murderers. If you want to tell the Euro story start with "here we go again".
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    """""""Unemployment is unimaginable. Despite the New Deal and the Social Security Administration, despite the land's riches of every variety, despite vast and fruitful soil, despite technology and the much-praised American progress, Roosevelt has not succeeded in reducing the numing it unnecessary to discuss it here. Capitalist greed has leveled the forests and produced drought and wind storms. Everything has become desert, and whole regions have been ruined. The world knows that the misery of the American farmer is a catastrophe that the government is unable to do anything about,

    American workers know nothing about such social benefits as old age care, care for the handicapped or accident and health insurance. Roosevelt's New Deal has attempted to copy the German model. The copy is a bad one. The renowned social apostle is bluffing here as everywhere else. Despite complicated regulations, only a small number of workers enjoy a decent retirement. Insurance against accidents, industries mishaps,and illness simply does not exist.

    Women, children and young people are exploited in the most shameless fashion in "God's own country." To give only one example, girls in the tobacco industry in Ohio still work unlimited hours under dangerous conditions for $10 a week. After four or five years, most are sick with tuberculosis and are thrown out on the street because the owner would otherwise have to pay unemployment insurance. Thousands of new and cheap workers are waiting at the door, willing to sacrifice their health for low wages."""""""""

    http://www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/gpa/ley1.htm

    The last attempt to unite Europe used the same phrases to bash America. You and the Nazis could be from the same Europe.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    """""German Propaganda Archive Calvin College



    Background: This is a translation of a 22-page pamphlet from 1942 titled Roosevelt Betrays America! The author is Robert Ley, head of the German Labor Front, though I rather suspect he had help. It is a good example of anti-American propaganda at the beginning of the war. I include some, but not all, of the accompanying illustrations as well. I assume this pamphlet was widely distributed by the DAF.

    The source: Robert Ley, Roosevelt verrät Amerika! (Berlin: Verlag der Deutschen Arbeitsfront, 1942)."""""


    http://www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/gpa/ley1.htm


    The new Euro, American hater just like the old Euro.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    The logic of unclehaole is, with great respect, shaky. To 'bash' [criticize?] America is the same as supporting terrorism? No, it's not. Anyone who dares criticize America is the same as the Nazi party? No, they are not. It seems to me that unclehaole's wish is to assert American cultural superiority and 'bash' anyone who disagrees. Ok, let's assume that is done and move on. In any event, I don't think this is the right forum for such an argument. It has little to do with Prof. Garton Ash's call for a new European narrative, self-critical and TRUE.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    The point is that the esteemed prof and most of today's euro define theirselves like yesterday's euros including the nazis.
    His points about America are the exact same ones the nazi propaganda people used. If you define Europe by bashing the USA with the same old Euronazi "stuff" then Americans should see you for what you are, which isnt pretty.

    did the Prof define himself and europe against any country besides the USA? No. Is europe better or different from communism(euroculture), islamic facism? The Prof does nt care. He only cared to say that Europe was better then the USA.

    Throw in arms to communist china, support for Hizbollah, lack of democracy in the EU, and the pic gets uglier and uglier.

    Euro's and Euro culture have been enormous killers of Americans, and everybody else in the world including millions and millions of Europeans. Americans should always watch the Euro capacity for evil.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    I\\\'m puzzled. I am not sure that we can have read the same essay. It can\\\'t help much to talk about things we haven\\\'t seen, and I am not going to defend anti-American Nazi propaganda. But I can\\\' t see any of that in Garton Ash\\\'s essay.

    What I see is examples of pro-American, or at least neutral, comments:

    ...the US functioning as Europe\\\'s pacifier\\\"...\\\'
    \\\'...twice it took US intervention to stop war in the Balkans...\\\'
    \\\'...America has riches...\\\'

    Even when there is some \\\'bashing\\\' of America, it is balanced by saying that Europe is no better:

    \\\'To be poor. old and sick in Europe\\\'s wild east is no more pleasant than it is to be poor, old and sick in America\\\'s wild west.\\\'
    \\\'...the EU is responsible, with the US, for the shameful stalling of the Doha round of world trade talks...\\\'

    In summary, I really do think that unclahaole has chosen the wrong target here. Is he or she fighting a previous battle of which I know nothing? Or does he or she really want to annoy the most pro-American people in Europe by appearing to be unreasonable and prejudiced? I hope not.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    I'd like to comment, following nosemonkey (http://www.jcm.org.uk/blog/2007/01/31/europes-story/), that this misses out what have been the most important historicak ties: artistic culture, philosophical interchange, and intellectual interchange. These occasion, and are occasioned by, trade.

    Your six goals, secondly suffer from the problem (from the point of view of building any common identity or story) that they can all be achieved without any form of interchange whatsoever, with the exception of prosperity. I exclude solidarity, because social solidarity can take place inside a single nation, and to have solidarity between people from disparate parts of europe assumes some form of community within which to have solidarity.

    Shared political institutions have the potential to damage all of these goals, and indeed appear to be doing so, because we have as a culture lost our appetite for freedom (cf anti-terrorist measures, and most EU measures brought in under the "freedom, security, and justice" pillar), while the ECJ undermines the constancy of law by its highly politicised judgments. The rule of law is a concept which varies by time and place, but also is linked to liberty, and as our hunger for that wanes, so grows the support for extra-legal measures.

    The best that can be said for these goals is that they are slogans which most people in Europe would want to be seen to support. At worst, one might comment that goals are of little relevance, unless the methods are clear, and instead processes and structures, and the outcomes they seem to tend to promote matter far more. That takes us back to economic and cultural interchange.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    I'd now like to address each of your goals' shortcomings in relation to identity in concrete terms.

    Peace - the EU's achievements in this regard have been awesome. Wonderful. But they pass unnoticed by the majority. The sad thing is that the single achievement of the EU has not made it popular, and people do not perceive its influence in this. This is why people question the value of the EU as such constantly, rather than its current, hugely flawed, form.

    Secondly, peace cannot in the abstract be a part of our identity. An abhorrence of military action and violence can be, but that is rather different and has not come to pass. Instead for such abstracts to be transmitted into identity they require the various mechanisms that do that - art, festivals, philosopy, language and idiom; in short, culture. This also has not manifested.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Freedom - Once again everything I have said about peace applies to freedom, except that the EU does not foster freedom internally, and indeed undermines it with its various security mechanisms, and its immunity from control by individual states' legal systems. It only fosters freedom externally. I would add that a culture of freedom requires a philosophical or moral underpinning, through the general acceptance of philosophies that promote and value freedom. Instead, we have a debased and collectivist utilitarianism that dominates the scene, leavened with authoritarian moralism in various guises (from Roman Catholic-garbed to "liberal"-garbed variants). Although politicians have seen what it is to live under heavy tyranny, they are not protecting us from the slide into minor incursions on our freedom in practice (e.g. curbs on freedom of speech), or from the creeping institutional apparatus that would make a switch from practical liberty to practical oppression so easy.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Law - Oh boy. The first item is to note again that the rule of law is a variable concept. Secondly, as you yourself note to what extent it actually obtains is questionable. The level of abuse suggests that it has not yet taken root as a strong value, but equally the state's organs do not operate with impunity.

    The supremacy of EU law is rather variable throughout the Union, really only having unfettered acceptance in the UK and Netherlands, and almost so in Italy. The ECJ itself is a problematic court, as it wears its political prejudices on its sleeve, and so undermines its standing as a bulwark against power-creep by the legislature and executive. This has also happened with the US Supreme Court, but rather less so in federations like Switzerland or Germany.

    The normative status of the ECHR and rulings of the ECtHR vary from country-to-country, and really are a very minimal set of norms, which also focus on victimhood in a rather unhelpful way. Indeed, such a style of legislation is rather unhelpful, leading to perverse results, and patchy protection overall. Specific constitutional protections tend to function rather better in their own sphere, in part because they are more limited and specific, but in large part because constitutional courts have powers of cassation.

    That said, the influence of the ECHR and ECtHR has been enormous, and is to a great extent the single most culturally successful european institution.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    I think Marcin's points are really good here, but I don't completely agree with the one about peace:

    "An abhorrence of military action and violence can be, but that is rather different and has not come to pass. Instead for such abstracts to be transmitted into identity they require the various mechanisms that do that - art, festivals, philosopy, language and idiom; in short, culture. This also has not manifested."

    I think if we take a look at what happened before the war in Iraq and similar occasions we can probably say that there is a general sentiment among Europeans to be against war. It is to be discussed what leads to that and whether it's always the right thing (like in the Balkan crisis, an earlier military intervention to stop the violence would have been a good thing) and where this comes from (I think it's probably not only the history of Europe but also the fact that the movement of '68 was more successful here than especially in the US).
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    I agree with most of Marcin's points, except what Bengt pointed out, and this:

    "the influence of the ECHR and ECtHR has been enormous, and is to a great extent the single most culturally successful european institution"

    I agree with the importance of their influence (although in countries that have a Declaration of rights, the Convention is rather unoriginal - the existence of a court makes all the difference). However are you sure it has been such a success? Of course many of the decisions have led to positive evolutions in national legislation (eg equal rights for illegitimate and legitimate children in France), but I find the possibility of attacking legislation with such a vague set of rules rather preoccupying. Is it really justified that a national judge should be able to make a decision that goes against a law, based on such a general right as the one to have one's "family life" respected, or the right to property, which have been used to mean every possible thing? The positive aspect of its effects can be discussed. I'm not sure how I feel about judges challenging legislation with such general texts...since in most countries the ECHR is higher than law in the hierarchy of legal rules.

    What I do think is a very positive evolution, due to European construction (both the ECHR and the EU), is the unification of legal systems. Usually not based on brutal changes completely contradicting national traditions, but on compromise and series of small reforms, I think it is what makes European law so interesting and so useful for the European citizen. From property rights to environment, and to the jurisictional systems, it is what, ultimately, allows Europeans to travel accross their continent and communicate better.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    As I have said - the form of ECHR is extremely problematic, but it has been extremely successful in the sense that it is a common set of norms that are respected and considered throughout the continent. They are successful in that they have gotten into our heads and our lives, whether or not their influence is good or bad.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    I agree with that, although I'm not quite sure how revolutionary the contents of the Convention were in countries that had a declaration of rights...but it is indeed a success that all European countries are respecting them.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    I have to admit I think for the general public the importance of the ECHR and ECtHR is rather small and I suppose has not really influenced the way we think a lot. It is indeed important for changes of law but I can't see a real connection between those decisions and the way we think. I would say it's probably rather the other way round - only after we started thinking the way we do those decisions were possible.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    The history of the ECHR is very clear - it was promoted by the Council of Europe after WWII, and largely drafted by the British Foreign Office. It was pretty revolutionary everywhere, but the real point is that it has embedded itself in our cultures. This did not happen before in any country, either because the declarations were not normative, did not provide for post-legislative scrutiny by a court that heard applications from the ordinary public (as in France), or because the courts were not truly independant or did not properly scrutinise national legislation. Now, having an independant court has genuinely effected this change, so that politicians pay attention when legislating, and individuals know that they have these rights. This is very noticeable both in the UK, and in Russia.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Getting back to the original poster's question - what story should Europe tell?

    To my mind, Europe should tell a true story. Sound trite? Give me a second to explain what I mean.

    One historical concept which Europe can fairly and squarely lay claim to is the concept that objective truth can be discovered by rational analysis. We trust that the world makes sense, and that we can find the rules that make sense of it. So that should be the basis of a common European identity: a belief that there is a difference in between what is true and what is false and that we can find out which is which by analysing evidence. I'm assuming that this belief did not arise and become widespread in the Middle East, in Asia, in Africa, in the Americas (North and South) before European immigrants brought it with them. For what it's worth, it's our idea, and goes to the core of our identity as Europeans.

    Even if I'm wrong about this, and please do correct me if you have a convincing theory that rationalism popped up and spread outside Europe first, we could do worse than adopt it as a basic ideal. It's a bit of a non-sequitur, but I think there may be a general theory of pluralism being the route to success (in, well, every field of human endeavour) slowly developing, and the combination of pluralism and rationalism (in other words, of having lots of competing ideas, putting them all into practice, and learning if only by trial and error which work) has been a very powerful driver of Europe for some four hundred years now.

    It's also something that gets lost a bit when we blunder into relativism, but that's a point for another day.

    Of course, this is something that is currently rather better taught in the States, where I believe even humanities students like myself end up with some kind of training in statistical analysis. But that's off-topic too so I'll stop there.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    As usually in his works, I do find the points raised by Timothy Garton Ash captivating and, on the whole, convincing. But what I miss in his essay is a compelling account of why exactly Europe, to repeat what is stated at the opening of this comments page, “badly” needs a new story or narrative to tell. Even if, to speak metaphorically, ‘the honeymoon’ of European integration is over and enthusiasm about the European Project seems recently to have abated, I do not see any cause for alarm in this. Rather, European states are now behaving much like older couples (rather odd ones, to be sure): less perhaps with open affection for each other, but nonetheless with a strong and more implicit mutual understanding and tolerance for the other’s perceived flaws.
    Is not the fact that Europe does NOT constantly have to re-assert and re-envision its ‘plot’ ample indication that coexistence has become more natural and more mature? Is the absence of an explicit ‘European story’ an indication for the failure, or rather for the SUCCESS of European cooperation – for the fact that such cooperation now, despite periodic quarrels, functions much more self-evidently than in the past?
    As a German, who has lived in England for the past four years, I have strongly experienced the advantages of European integration. Like Professor Ash, I can say without hesitation that I do love Europe in its entirety. But I feel that Europe has reached a state of integration at the moment, also in terms of commonly perceived identity, which, for all its failures, has already brought us as close to the ideal of a confederate but decentralised community as we can confidently expect to get.
    The recent rejection of the European ‘Constitution’ was not necessarily an indicator for a lack of common feeling in Europe. To a large extent (and besides numerous other important factors) it stemmed from a widespread perception that current levels of supra-national and institutional integration are sufficient. Whether this is indeed the case is certainly debatable. Granted, many processes of joint policy making are still functioning very badly, and in many areas (including, for instance, the need for an efficacious Common Foreign and Security Policy) such processes will have to be considerably improved in the future. But it is illusory, on the other hand, to envisage a truly efficient AND democratic AND decentralised European system WITH effective mechanisms for social redistribution across Europe AND simultaneously respecting state sovereignties. Perhaps Europe will achieve more, if we expect it to achieve less.
    The foremost identification for most people in Europe (with the exception of certain territories, where discontent with their own situation within larger entities remains strong, such as the Basque Country, Catalonia, or parts of the United Kingdom) still lies with their respective nation states. And (as long as processes and institutions of mediation and understanding between these states exist) is this necessarily such a bad thing?
    Unlike Professor Ash, I am less optimistic about the prospect of combining increasing convergence with great cultural diversity (not even, as it is commonly envisaged, in concepts of a ‘Europe of Regions’). That Ash mentions Caffè Nero, a de facto fast food chain, in the context of cultural diversity I find very ironic indeed. Europe was more culturally diverse in the past than it is now. But in these days, it was also mired in near-constant, internecine struggles, spurred by the very lack of mutual understanding that such cultural diversity entailed. I believe that, at the moment, Europeans have found a (somewhat unfirm, but nonetheless very satisfactory) compromise between diversity on the one hand and mutuality, common understanding and institutionalised cooperation on the other hand. And these ties of mutuality and common understanding have become conspicuously strong. Do we really need another attempt at creating an overlying ‘narrative’ for our European coexistence? I am not convinced.
    We should perhaps be less perfectionist, more content with Europe (and also with EU-rope) as it currently IS, and not see every microscopic and momentary crack in the European fabric as a chasm of the future. Although a common discussion is needed on one important topic, the envisaged future borders of the European Union, this does not eo ipso imply the need for an entirely new ‘story’ for the European Project itself. A shared European identity is woven primarily from below, and as such it already exists strongly today, both consciously and subconsciously. In this respect, as it approaches its 50th anniversary, EU-rope rests on stronger foundations than many realise. Artificial (or worse, ‘academic’) attempts at devising new narratives will not only remain just that (i.e. artificial) – they are also largely redundant.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    To Alex Dueben, re: "I feel that Europe has reached a state of integration at the moment, also in terms of commonly perceived identity, which, for all its failures, has already brought us as close to the ideal of a confederate but decentralised community as we can confidently expect to get."

    I hope and I believe that you are mistaken about this. For Europe does not behave much like a community so far. Just look at the examples prof. Garton Ash gives in his essay for EU-ropean lack of solidarity; or look at the way national interests are often being pursued in negotiations regardless of the damage to the common interests. So it is really important to discuss what our most important common goals are (not only on an academic level, I agree, but you must start the discussion some place).

    Marcin has insisted that the rule of law is a variable concept. I would like to add: so are the other goals the professor has suggested. This doesn't make them less important, it just means we need to find a common definition (even if it will change with time). For example, I am not sure what you mean when you speak of "freedom": As far as I heard, to British persons the obligation to carry an ID card is an infringement of personal freedom. As a German, I am just used to it - and I don't feel it is stopping me going anywhere or expressing my opinion freely.

    Even the EU didn't need any talking about goals in order to forge its identity - we would still need to talk about these goals for their own importance, and I think the EU is the right framework for pursuing them. Unlike Marcin, I don't think peace can be durable without interchange. For example, in Germany, the most racists live in the places with the least foreigners. As for solidarity, it is less and less possible to practice it on a national level only. Since globalisation enables companies and privileged individuals to take their profits where they have to share less, national welfare systems are undermined.

    This leads me to another point on which I disagree with Alex Dueben: As far as I can tell the French (I have not been in touch with any Dutch) who voted against the Constitution Treaty didn't do so because of satisfaction with the status quo, but on the contrary because they felt the European project was flawed. The EU has always been a promoter of trade liberalisation, so people who feel threatened by global trade liberalisation can feel threatened by European integration, too. So it must be made clear that European integration is really a project to enhance common values and not to erode social standards.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    In answer to Alex Dueben's post:
    I, like Akapi, hope you are wrong. I agree on the fact that mutual understanding has increased between European states. However European integration should, and can increase, through people. I don't know if you've heard about Monnet's (or was it Schuman?) comment that, if he had known what would happen, he wouldn't have started with economy but with culture. Because what we have now is countries that are forced to communicate and agree because they are economically linked in a way that cannot be changed, but peoples that are still, in large numbers, stuck with the prejudices and fears of their fathers. And that means political integration (the "founding fathers"'s real objective) is impossible: as long as people don't understand the EU, nor what it means, nor why it exists. See the result of the French referendum about the constitution: people didn't vote (and I insist, I was there) about the treaty, not even about the EU. They never have. No-one ever asked them, no-one ever explained it to them.

    That is why we need to "tell a story": the economical union has been achieved, mobility is possible, but to achieve more political integration, we need people to identify with the Union (and that should also be a goal in itself). To make people really feel European, which they often don't at the moment, we need to make them identify with a common "story". And only that will achieve what I see as the best for European citizens.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    In case it's unclear, I don't think that interchange is unimportant - indeed I think that European integration can only proceed when people move across, or communicate across, borders in large numbers.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Maybe people rejected the constitution because all it promised was more of the same lumbering, heavy-handed bureaucracy based on 1950s conceptions of the ideal dirigiste state, and they wanted to break away from that?
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    On the necessity to "tell a story" in order to create a European identity:
    Probably even more impressive than being told a story is the chance to live that story. One problem about the EU is, that it talks only to the elites. For a start the strategy didn't seem so bad: enable the academics and opinion-makers to move around & meet other Europeans, and they will start to feel part of a community almost automatically. With students that took part in the Erasmus program this worked formidably well, as far as I can tell (allow me to take the success of "L'auberge espagnole" as an indicator). So how can non-academics be encouraged to make the same experience? One answer is starting exchange-programs earlier, before the educational system segregates young people into intellectual and manual workers. Another is given by programs like Leonardo. Mostly, in that area it is the Commission's and the national governments' responsibility to promote these better. NGOs can help them, of course.

    Another point for creating a sense of community and hence a shared identity is to know what the others have on their mind and what they are thinking about topics we are all concerned with. So we need a European publicity. Too bad most of our media are national, and often very little concerned with what goes on abroad. As a consequence here we are, speculating what was motivating French and Dutch voters who rejected the constitution. There are quite a few people working on the European-publicity-problem, too, of course. One of my favourites is www.eurotopics.net, where you can find a press review in French, English and German, reviewing papers from the EU27+Switzerland. The problem is, most of these projects are net-based, so yet again they address an elite of web-users. Still, there is some chance other media will catch on, once pan-European debates are being launched.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    It did not take long before someone tried to turn this debate into a debate on America. Thankfully, this time, it was an American doing so, and not a European obsessed with the superpower across the ocean. Maybe this obsessiveness, which leads to stupid anti-Americanism as well as to stupid pro-Americanism, is ebbing out? For a debate on where Europe comes from, where it is heading and where it should be heading, I believe rule number one should be: Forget America. At least for a while.

    Sadly, I can not fully live up to that rule myself, because one of the issues Europe will have to handle is an increasingly pluralistic population. This is not only a result of immigration from countries outside Europe (Northern Africa, Asia, etc), but also a result of migration inside Europe. I am a Norwegian myself, but my wife is a Belgian citizen, half-Dutch and half-Flemish. We have given our son a Finnish name, partly because it sounded good in all three languages routinely spoken at home, English, Norwegian and Dutch. While residing in Belgium I have worked for two American companies, but my colleagues have been Finns, Swedes, Danes, Germans, French, Italians, Turks, etc.

    This mix of cultural heritages is exciting, and Europe should become more open to it. Sadly, immigrants in many European countries often face one great problem. Immigrants in Holland never become Dutch, even their children being referred to as foreigners, sometimes even their grandchildren. In Norway, there recently was a large debate on who are "allowed" to call themselves Norwegians, and on who are not. Those of Pakistani origin, whether they are born in Norway or not, and even if they speak the language fluently and are active in politics and society, are sometimes simply dismissed as "innvandrere", immigrants.

    And here, I believe Europe has something to learn from America, or actually from Jewish-American Emma Lazarus, a descendant of Sephardic Jews from Spain and Portugal, and a writer mastering several languages. She wrote the famous sonnet "The New Colossus", now engraved on a bronze plaque on the Statue of Liberty:

    Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
    With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
    Here at our sea-washed sunset gates shall stand
    A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
    Is the imprisoned lightening, and her name
    Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
    Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
    The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

    "Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
    With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door."

    Today, it is Europe that has to live up to this challenge. One of the important questions for our future is how we do exactly that.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    I've only just read the Prospect article and so I'm a little behind the rest of you but I thought I'd ask a quick question regarding the solidarity strand. Do you think that we can develop/enhance EU-ropean solidarity when there are many aspects of daily life which emphasise our differences? The only European sports team I can think of is the Ryder Cup team all other sports put Europeans as "others". Language issues mean that I can't express my solidarity with others in the EU (for certain) unless I learn 27 languages (Can you have a common culture without a common language?). My vague recollection of history at school talked about national histories rather than European ones. I feel that trying the get the British to feel solidarity with fellow Europeans is like trying to get them to use the metric system, you stand a chance with the children but forget it with the adults.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Well let's try with the children!

    I think there can be solidarity among Europeans. Speaking different languages does make things more difficult, but conscience of our common history would be easy through changes in educational systems and media coverage, and history is about as important as language for common identification. What about European teams in all sports? Or focusing on the "European" element in Europe-wide events like the Champions' League? Finally and most importantly, if we get people to communicate more (and, yes, that means learning foreign languages, unless we decided to use a common artificial language) they will understand each other more, and solidarity will be possible.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Dear GaryLondon,
    your post seems to express the wish for a European solidarity - even though you have been brought up with a national view on history and identifying with national sports teams that rival their European counterparts. So you are a positive example of how European-ness can develop in spite of the obstructive circumstances you describe. I suppose this is because you are an intelligent, well-educated person. To my mind, the most important thing every child (and grownup) needs to learn, is that the best way towards success is cooperation. This can be learned for example in biology or sports - not only in subjects with a European focus.
    As for your concern that you cannot express your solidarity in the 27 EU languages (even the 23 official ones would be quite a lot): by learning one or two of them you would already express your respect towards all of us who are no English native speakers. Even though my mother tongue (German) is the one with the most European native speakers, I have no hard feelings towards any learner who opts to study another language rather than mine ;-) According to Eurostat, 51 % of Europeans understand English; so just give it a try - there is a good chance you will be understood.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Akapi,
    Not only am I intelligent and well educated but I'm also arrogant enough to believe that I am different from the "common man". I don't need convincing, but the "common man" does. As araceli says we need to try changing mindsets (in the UK at least) with children. On the language front there are too many. If the EU had 2 official languages (in addition to native language) that had to be taught everywhere to all children then I think that would help. For example if English and French were the two official language then evey chiild in Europe would be taught their native language, English and French AND NO OTHERS until post-16 say. This mans that the UK schools wouldn't teach German at 11 as many do now and French schools would also only teach English and French. I am of course at a disadvantage here because when I suggest that English should be one of the official languages it seems that I'm being nationalist rather then practical. I'll stop going on about language now as I think I've made my view clear about its importance.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    TGA's six goals are all important but I'm not sure that they include everything that I would like the EU to say. Some other themes that the EU could target could be:

    Ethical/Moral - to cover things like the death penalty topic and environmental issues and ensure that when we say we are going to do something (like support free trade) we actually do it.
    Engaged/Internationalist - full participation in Doha, Kyoto, ICC etc as the EU not as member states

    TGA's article describes the peace goal in terms of peace within Europe but I think that Europe should be a catalyst for peace globally. Whether that is via trade, aid or (dare I write it) military intervention is of course debatable.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    I dont like Europe to promote democracy elsewhere like the USA, but do it within itself.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    enisxh,

    Certainly democracy is a European value, even though it isn't one of TGA's six goals. You are right that the EU should ensure that its member states and institutions are democratic. You are probably right in saying that we shouldn't promote democracy elsewhere in the same way that the US does (i.e. by force). But Europe should help those countries that want to be democratic to achieve that goal.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Exactly. Rich countries do have a responsability for the way things turn out elsewhere, especially when they are investing in other countries for instance. Therefore they must act in order to promote well-being as much as they can, and that means promoting democracy.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Nice piece, Prof (1)

    [quote]Europe has lost the plot........... We don't know why we have an EU or what it's good for. So we urgently need a new narrative [/quote]

    How telling that the solution to this quandary is to come up with a new narrative, rather than addressing the core issue of what functions (if any ) the EU should serve, and re-making the EU to fit those purposes.

    It's a pity that you interchange a geographical expression (Europe) with a political one (EU).

    I suggest that in looking for grand themes, we need to go further back in time than the 20th century. It is clear, if uncomfortable to some of us non-believers, that the cultures of the peoples of Europe are grounded in their Christian heritage, which has illuminated a vast amount of high culture, especially art, music, and architecture, and has placed at least some new testament values at the core of European politics. From this Christian heritage we can trace the Enlightenment, and the rapid development, largely in the 17th and 18th centuries, almost exclusively in Europe and transcending the national and imperial boundaries of the time, of the basis of the philosophy, science, technology and economics which has come since to dominate the world. Somewhere in the new story there must be room for the Enlightenment virtues of rationalism and innovation, and for the new testament idea that individuals are worthy in their own right, not instrument of earthly powers.

    [quote]I propose that our new story should be woven from six strands, each of which represents a shared European goal. The strands are freedom, peace, law, prosperity, diversity and solidarity. [/quote]

    IMO you have made a serious mistake in conflating freedom and democracy. Democracy is clearly compatible with significant restrictions on freedom:
    - Many restrictions on commercial freedom are represented by the CAP, CFP, Social Chapter
    - Price and wage controls and exchange controls survived into the late 1970s in the UK at least
    - Food rationing survived into the 50s in the UK
    - Nationalised industries still exist and are still protected from entrepreneurial competition, especially but far from exclusively in healthcare and education
    - High taxes are also an infringement of freedom, because they impinge on individuals ability to use their own property in the form of money they have earnt
    - Restrictions on freedom of expression such as holocaust denial laws exist in many EU states
    - Compulsory education, and compulsory state education restrict freedom of association in many EU states
    - Conscription into armed forces or other government services is a gross restriction of personal freedom

    [Note that I am not arguing that all these restrictions on freedom are wrong, simply that they are restrictions and are a persistent feature of the European political landscape. ]

    Contrariwise, undemocratic regimes are capable of supporting freedom, especially commercial freedom, one example being Hong Kong under the British. In summary I suggest you re-read Hoppe on democracy and freedom.

    I would also suggest that Europe today is shaped by unresolved conflict between the desire for freedom, represented by the 'Enlightenment' values that have shown that the fulfilled life is most attainable in the context of self- government and personal freedoms, and on the 'dark' side the tradition of coercion of others to fit the mould of service to the State, in its Imperial, socialist, or bureaucratic form. This freedom / control conflict shapes today's attitudes and institutions across geographical Europe and will shape them in the future.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Only just found this debate. Below is the (unpublished) letter I sent to the Guardian in response to the original article on 4 January.

    Re Timothy Garton-Ash article

    How about an essay competition for the best European "story"?
    The Guardian could sponsor it, but a more ambitious project would be to
    get national governments to promote it, open to primary and secondary
    schools in all 27 countries, with thousands of prizes at local, regional
    national and European levels.

    John White
    Baldock, Herts
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    TGA,

    I've just received my copy of Prospect for March. There are 2 letters regarding your article published. One says:

    "The inability of the EU to face up to its cultural background is one of its great deficits" - Charles Jencks

    The other says:

    "Garton Ash is not looking for 'our new European story'; he is pursuing his own, personal fairytale" - Sean McGlynn

    I'm not sure if Mr Jencks or Mr McGlynn have been reading posts here but would you like to reply?
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    In my view people do not voluntarily identify with any particular label (British, French, European) unless they are proud to do so. It is currently not easy to identify myself with being British as I feel the state is guilty of acting badly in its dealings abroad - especially Iraq. I am guilty by association and this makes me feel uncomfortable with being British. With regard to Europe it is difficult to feel anything much as most reported feedback is negative in the British news: bureaucratic and interfeering. Has 'Europe' done anything to make the world a better place? Is there a 'European' foreign policy? I am aware of and enjoy the benefits that being a member of the Union brings - but that's not enough for me to be happy to adopt the label of being European. The story you have told is all about how Europe has looked after itself - sounds a bit selfish. Is that something to be proud of?
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Before one starts telling a story about his or her heritage they should know the nature of humankind. There are difinitive and as yet to be discovered structures. Each person that enters into a discussion on cultural heritage should know what the 6 plus 3 institutions are. If they do not know these behaviors then any discussion is an exercise in futility. I'll bet 1of 100 who read this do not know what the 6+3 are. Even if identified they don't have a clear definition of each.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    In 1957 the EC was a union of six countries. Now it stretches from Lapland to the Mediterranean and from Poland to the Canaries and includes 27 countries. It is a Community of 487 million inhabitants, where 23 official languages are spoken. It has an executive commission, a parliament, an upper house, a court of justice, a central bank, a currency, a citizenship, a flag, an anthem, a passport. National borders have been abolished. Two dates represent milestones in the history of European unification. The first is 10 June 1979, when the European Parliament was first elected by universal suffrage. The European Parliament become the first supranational parliament in history. It is an innovation that could change world history. Democracy, which usually stops at state borders, has become international. In future it could become global with the transformation of the UN General Assembly into a World Parliament. The second date is the 1st of January 1999 when the European Central bank was established, thus opening the way to the circulation of the euro in 2002 - a historic step on the road toward the construction of a European sovereignty. The euro has been a great success. The share of euros in the global official reserves amounts to 25%. Since December 2006, the quantity of euro notes in circulation in the world has overtaken the dollar. This is an extraordinary performance considering that it is only five years since the euro was launched. At the same time, the euro is the starting point of a transition toward a polycentric international monetary system and, as an integrated global market cannot work with many competing currencies, towards a world currency.
    What is the historical significance of the grand design of European unification? The most important achievement is undoubtedly peace. After centuries of warfare, Europe has never before lived so long in peace.
    What is peace? It is not simply the absence of war. This is the negative notion of peace which Kant called “truce” and placed in the same category as war. Instead, positive peace requires a political organization which prevents war through entrusting the power to settle conflicts among states to a federal authority acting on the basis of law. According to Kant’s philosophy, the foundation-stone of peace is law – the extension of law to the sphere of international relations.
    "War appears to be as old as mankind, but peace is a modern invention", said Henry Maine. War has always been considered a normal event in political life, the vehicle for settling conflicts unsolvable through diplomacy. The novelty of the EU lies in the fact that it represents the most successful attempt so far to build a new form of statehood at international level, even though its pace has been slow and hesitant.
    The EU is the most intensively regulated region of the world. Its political institutions impose restraints on what sovereign states may do in their relations with each other, and in this it shows the way to what the UN could become in the future: namely, the guardian of international law and the framework of a process of constitutionalization of international relations. The European integration process weakens national governments and compels them to co-operate in order to solve together the problems they are unable to cope with separately. It creates a European civil society side by side with national civil societies, and establishes European institutions that represent a decision-making mechanism which progressively depletes national institutions. The process has advanced to such a stage that war among European Union member states has become inconceivable. The current political debate on the Constitution shows how far the process of unification in Europe has advanced. In other words, slowly and imperfectly something like a European Federation is taking shape.
    It is unrealistic to plan fusion among nation-states; that is, among forms of political organization based on power centralization and international antagonism. The EU represents a rejection of such nationalism which knows no other way to pursue unification but imperialism. The EU is not and will never be a state in the traditional meaning of the word. It will rather be a Federation of states. The nascent European Federation is facing the task of promoting mutual toleration and solidarity among nations. The vitality of the European unification experience springs from the attempt to reconcile unity with the Old Continent’s diversity of peoples. It relies on the principle that the result of any attempt to suppress differences will be worse than from accepting them. The experience of the European Community brings ample evidence that the epoch of World Wars has passed. The enlarged EU, which now includes most Central and Eastern European Countries, represents the overcoming of the Cold War.

    Lucio Levi University of Torino
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Europe is not a nation. It's a group of countries that share common values, like Garton Ash's 6-goals indicate.
    We will never have a common football team, or basketball team, or swimming team... And that's good. It means that all europeans have the opportunity of expressing their natural differences, patriotism, and national proud. This is valid for other social activities, to politics, to economy, etc.
    In the other discussions of the forum I already said this: We shouldn't try to homogenize europe. We are not United States of Europe, I hope we will never be, we shouldn't have a common language (which would be naturally German), because it would be an artificial language (using someone's expression).

    Now, common values: undoubtly. Key Word (already someone mencioned it): cooperation.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    On Thursday this past week I discussed Tim Garton-Ash’s proposal of a new European story based on shared goals at a seminar with a group of doctoral students I was chairing in Florence. They had read about it in “Repubblica”, the previous Tuesday. First of all, though this is Italy, nobody in our seminar missed the rhetoric of the discourse on “more Europe” and we all felt that the idea of “shared values” could help to provide a new identity for today’s Europe. After quite a long discussion on the various points, we focused on two issues. One is the meaning of “Law”: we concluded it will be better expressed by the old, common law, definition: “right of habeas corpus”. This could counterbalance, thanks to the important role of the European Court of Justice, the violation of civil liberties caused by the “war on terror”, at the national level. The second value we discussed at length is “Solidarity”. We looked at the challenges facing the European social model (ESM) on the basis of the rich debate and research on global Europe-social Europe which has been led by Tony Giddens during the last couple of years. The majority among us agreed that a revised ESM, compatible with global challenges, but distinguished from the neo-liberal alternative and therefore quite similar to the Nordic European model, is a fundamental goal which is entering the political arena all over Europe. To make feasible such a European social model within the Union, once it is agreed on by the majority of European citizens, could be a very solid goal to pursue on the basis of common values.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    ipog,

    Do you think that the improved "Solidarity" measure you describe would reduce "Diversity"? In TGA's article he tentatively describes good diversity (cityscapes, cuisines, etc) and bad diversity (British weights and measures for example). For me your proposal reduces bad diversity. As such it increases homogeneity (in that something similar to the Nordic European model becomes dominant) which according to TGA is what those nasty Americans do. In your discussions did you look at the diversity issue, if so what were your conclusions?
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Timothy!

    I have a problem if you discribe that the 4 foundamental freedoms are already an infringement of freedoms. It goes back to old but true (legal) argument that the codification of a a right or freedom does necessary limit the freedom of someone else because of the freedoms given to other s/he cannot freely do what s/he wants.

    Further please do not forget were the EU came from it started as the EEC and that name was not only a name but a rather true descrition was it was. The method monnet was to start of with ecomomic intrgration and it still shows.

    As to democracy of the EU, its as as democratic as our democratic government agree to let it.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    The Story of the EU

    Once upon a time, in a country not far from you, a child awakes. "Daddy, I love living in my country, I hope I will always be able to live here" said the child.

    Taken by surprise, his father replied "No son, I'm afraid you'll be disappointed, the country is already gone. We are now just a member state of the EU, that's where you live now". The child, already on the verge of tears, asked "How did it happen Daddy? Was there a big army? Was there a war?".

    "Son, there was no war and there was no army. The politicians we elected surrendered without a fight. We tried to tell them we didn't want to be citizens of the EU and live under foreign laws, but they didn't listen."

    "Daddy", he replied, "are there any politicians in the EU? Is there anyone who will listen to us now?"

    "No son, although there are politicians there, we are just one of many member states, even if our politicians did listen to us, there's very little they can do as they are easily outnumbered."
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Once upon a time a boy in Lancashire awoke.

    "Daddy I love being Lancastrian"
    "Sorry son you are not Lancastrian now, you are English, we decided to stop fighting with Yorkshire"
    "OK Daddy I love being English"
    "Sorry son, you are now British, we decided to stop fighting with Scotland"
    "OK Daddy, what does that mean"
    "It means that you get a seat on the UN security council, you have a strong economy, you can afford an army that will help to defeat fascism in Europe and many other benefits that you would not have if Lancashire had remained independent"
    "Daddy would anyone in their right mind suggest that Lancashire should be an independent state"
    "No son, your influence in the world is much greater now than it would have been otherwise"
    "Daddy, even though I am a child, I can see that when people stop fighting and join together with other people then everyone benefits"
    "That's right son"
    "Daddy are their any other people that we have historically fought with that we can join with and make everyone's lives better"
    "Yes son, I am so glad to see that you are not a xenophobe, there are many countries that we have a great deal in common with, just like Lancastrians have with Yorkists and just like the English have with the Scots"
    "Daddy can we join with them please"
    "Of course son"
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    It's becoming more clear on my mind that the problem of european identity and common shared values lies more on the big countries (UK, France, Germany - Italy is probably an exception), then on the small and medium countries...
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    GaryLondon, on diversity I think that at a time of crisis of multiculturalism within our nations it is hard to imagine that a bit more homogeneity in Europe would damage the extraordinary different and rich scenario we continue to see around us! Where we are different and certainly not for good is in providing acccess to education and in educating our citizens. A real, single European market of opportunities does not exist under present circumstances. We must raise standards in schools and universities across Europe and make a common, monumental effort in order to invest in education and research.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    The EU already invests a lot in research. The 7th framework program nearly takes more then 2/3 (if you leave out the programs for non-EU-countries) of the overall budget of all EU-programs. Impressive in my opinion.
    But I think the culture program should get more money because culture helps to identify easily, even without understanding the language (just think of paintings etc).
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Mao Zedong famously said "political power grows out of the barrel of a gun" this is one of the great issues I have with the claimed propagation of "peace". Even though this currently may be true, it will not hold indefinitely. So how is that peace going to be protected???? Western Europe (and as recently became known Poland and Czechoslovakia) are still under the US defence umbrella. So does the peace strand not imply an EU army????
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    [quote]Once upon a time a boy in Lancashire awoke.[/quote]
    GaryLondon - seems that you and I are the only ones answering the question and telling a story. Or is 'What story should Europe tell?' some kind of EU-slang for let's debate the fundamental purpose of the EU?

    [quote]It's becoming more clear on my mind that the problem of european identity and common shared values lies more on the big countries[/quote]
    jm.iglesias, I think that's only because the small countries are aware that they're not in a position to say much. The biggest problem with european identity is that most of us have yet to see why we want one. If the EU did something we actually, really, truly wanted, then we might become proud to be part of it and get a sense of identity along with it. As it is all that comes out of the EU are silly restrictions, long documents and tax bills.

    [quote]We must raise standards in schools and universities across Europe and make a common, monumental effort in order to invest in education and research.[/quote]
    Too right ipog! Education in the UK is a threadbare mess, even teachers will openly say so. That's not even mentioning undergraduate degree mills called universities. Too much of the lowest common denominator going on and not enough of good old-fashioned excellence. If the EU can do anything about education in the UK then they are quite welcome, they can't do a worse job than the government here has done.

    [quote]But I think the culture program should get more money[/quote]
    Must disagree there gerbera, culture is something you have not something you fund. Take away every last punt from the Irish and their culture will be as strong as ever, if not stronger. I'm sure the same could be said for most other European nations. Don't go giving my taxes to some 'artist' who couldn't be bothered to get a proper job!