Not signed in (Sign In)

Vanilla 1.1.5a is a product of Lussumo. More Information: Documentation, Community Support.

    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    thanks to timothy garton ash for an excellent opening to a fascinating and important debate. i am a strong believer in "european values" and believe that the EU has had an imprtant and (generally) very positive influence in the region. i put "european values" in parentheses though, because it strikes me that tolerance, diversity, rights, freedom of conscience are all very recent phenomena in europe (and the eu was set up because our history is so blood-soaked). i appreciate these virtues, but am not sure where they come from? the gurrent gay adoption debate in the uk for example, reminds us that in the space of a generation, homosexuality has gone from being illegal, to being broadly accepted. what do you think are the drivers for this process?
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    [q]because it strikes me that tolerance, diversity, rights, freedom of conscience are all very recent phenomena in europe (and the eu was set up because our history is so blood-soaked).[/q]

    The EU is nt a democracy. The voters can only vote for the EU parliament members. The parliament cannot propose legislation. The appointed EU commission and council decide what happens. The EU constitution read like a list of government benefits, free health care, free job counseling, free education. There are few if any limits placed on government power.

    Instead of democracy the EU offers, gay rights, free everthing, short work weeks, the usual stuff that Euros claim as the good life, "European values".

    Europe is going to try another experiment with socialism, even though raced based socialism, National socialism failed and communism, class based socialism failed. The new socialism is to quote above "tolerance, diversity, rights, freedom of conscience" based. I am not sure what it all means but it will fail.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Is unclehaole a European? I get the impression, I could be wrong, that he or she is American. In which case, while not denying the right of foreigners to comment on European matters, is this the right place to debate the alleged shortcomings of the Union compared to the "wonderland" that is the US of A?
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    The Europeans have a long history of limiting American speech in Europe.

    Colonialist, no voice for Americans, america as a tax cow.

    Nazi, Americans not allowed to speak in Europe.

    Communists, Americans not allowed to speak in Europe.

    EU. Limits certian forms of speech by Americans. TV and Films from USA limited. Government controlled news, unfriendly to certain Americans.

    You have plenty of Euro models to follow, maybe you should limit Americans to post 2 days a week. Or like your state news only have Americans friendly to Europe post.

    What About euro's who are proamerican,, gonna have to limit those buggahs to brah.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    thank you, Dickie, and i agree. these values are not unique to Europe and were (and still are) often betrayed in Europe. but we can say 'these are values that we Europeans want to try to live up to in the future...'
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    amen to that! do you think a constitution is needed to protect this values, given their flimsy historical grounding? how do we accomodate "members of the family" who don't actually hold to these values? presumably via debate (hearts and minds!), such as this sort of thing (i try to do this through the work of a small charity of which i'm a trustee, which works in romania, discussing with young people the changes to ways of thinking which accompany their embrace of the eu)
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    I think this "Those are the values we want to live up" to is an important thing.

    I think the whole story should be framed by the idea that the European values are always a constant struggle for something better. We can maybe not achieve them all at the time we wish so but we can ultimately achieve them if we keep on working for it.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    "the European values are always a constant struggle for something better"

    Yes, but then again, all societies's values are a constant struggle for something better. You can say that these values were born in Europe without being too arrogant historically. Tolerance, democracy, liberalism...all these were ideas that led to numerous theories in Europe and then were exported as being the ones that were the best for organizing a society. But I don't think Chinese principles, as confucianism, weren't a struggle to make society work better. It is just that we live in a world that has adopted European ideals as universal ones. I do think Europe, as being the part of the world where these ideals are the most respected (you could add Canada... ;-) ) could reivindicate the role of representing them and their implementation in society, on the scale of the continent and in its behaviour abroad... and trying to "live up to them" in a way that most countries don't.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    I'm not so sure that "European values" exist but there are "universal values". The values that would make the EU an effective and successful entity would be the same as those which have made the US a (broadly) effective and successful entity. It would probably have made unclehaole's point better if s/he had simply said that the US (probably) already aspires to TGA's six goals.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    araceli: "You can say that these values were born in Europe without being too arrogant historically. Tolerance, democracy, liberalism...all these were ideas that led to numerous theories in Europe and then were exported as being the ones that were the best for organizing a society."

    I totally agree on that. But thinking about European values brings me back to the old question of how to define "Europe" or "european".
    I just had an interesting discussion on that yesterday. Some people think that only countries that are "christian" are Europe because the European culture is (in there eyes) most strongly defined by Christian values. I'd say that these values are older than Christianity itself. I think Europe is (still) in the tradition of antique philosophers from Athens and Rome. That is in my opinion the very beginning of our common values. Most "modern" European philosophers who wrote about the state were in the tradition of the older philosophers. And because they were also influenced by oriental philosophers, maybe we could say oriental countries and Israel share a lot of the" European" values. Are they European, too?
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Most US citizens have European ancestry, as do most Australians, New Zealanders and Canadians. Significant proportions of South and Central America, Isreal and southern Africa also have European ancestry. It would appear that historically imperialism was a European value. Maybe our only problem is that the US does cultural imperialism better than we do.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    So much discussion of "Europe" is actually a discussion about the EU and the grand schemes of self-serving politicians. I think the better model of Europe is that spectacularly successful polity that lies right in the centre - Confederatio Helvetica.

    It is actually Switzerland that represents true European values:

    - diversity (three nationalities, four languages, at least two religions);

    - decentralization (26 autonomous cantons and half-cantons); and

    - direct democracy (run by the people rather than self-serving politicians) implemented through the citizens' right of veto and right to initiate their own laws at the federal, cantonal and local levels.

    The results are astounding. CH has the highest per capita income in Europe (other than oil rich Norway). Unemployment never rises above 4%. The currency is strong. The crime rate is one of the lowest in the world (despite the Swiss having one of the highest rates of firearm ownership in the world). The public services run like the proverbial Swiss watch. They have managed to avoid war since 1848 and yet still defend their homeland. Their innovation rate is high. The have proved a home to some of the greatest intellects in history. (Where was Einstein living when he published his greatest works!!). They even excel in sport, having the world greatest ever tennis player, and having won the America's Cup despite being landlocked!!

    Let's stop talking about politicians' grand schemes to write themselves into the history books, and start looking at the one European country that really works.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    I think that best way to put European values in a nutshell would be the result of a recent survey conducted among Europeans and Americans. And while Americans put in first place things like money, success, family, religion, liberty, nation, Europeans, on the other hand, overwhelmingly chose phrase “quality of life” as their most important value. Although vague, I believe it really describes modern European values. It means putting time spent with family ahead of business promotion. Freedom of speech ahead of “national interests” or political correctness, yet protection from talk of hatred ahead of freedom of speech. It means paying more to support causes one believes in (take Fairtrade in UK for example ). Yet European are also the values of individualism and self determination unknown to, for example, ancient China, Japan, Middle East or other great cultures of the Old World. Free individual in a supporting yet liberal community. That’s how I’d describe European values (ideals?)

    Europe should be wary of American experience. Its’ sad to see that superpower wearing itself down by constant struggles to identify and re-identify itself.
    America claims to be about freedom of choice when actually it’s about assimilation. It claims to be about democracy when it’s really about capitalism.
    Also, Americans should finally learn that world is not black and white, not pro and anti American.

    P.S. statement that American thought is being blocked in Europe is unfounded , not to say ridiculous. I’d actually say it is other way around with Americans generally unwilling (fearful) of any meaningful comparison of their model with any other model in the world.

    GaryLondon: "universal values" have developed in western world which in turn was conceived and modeled in Europe up to World Wars so we could be talking about universal – western values of definitely European origin, as araceli already explained why.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Switzerland, great example. Stands Idly by while fascism sweeps across Europe then pockets as much Nazi gold as it can lay its hands to in order to keep per capita income high in the banking sector. There's a role model.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    I just read the 'Europe's true stories' article by Timothy Garthon. It very clearly points out that nothing will be gained by creating a common enemy for Europe to unit against (e.g. Anti-US) or by dredging through the past (e.g. Swiz gold grabs). So in the interest of looking forward I think that the suggestion of Law should be changed to Integrity.

    Law has always been a point of conflict throughout the whole European experiment. No one country wants to be dictated to in terms of law. Agreeing to up hold a certain Integrity however would be a much easier pill to swallow. I know they are only words and each can be blended somewhat into the other but I somehow doubt that integrity will be able to dictate the size of our bananas or what we can or can not call a pork pie.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Chemlock,

    Delighted to look to the future, but you will find that 90% of the posts here are discussing Europe's history. It appears that most people seem to think that our common past is what gives the EU legitimacy.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    GaryLondon, I don't exactly think that but history is important, too.
    Knowing and understanding the history helps a lot if you want to have a look at the future.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    To me the past is (a major part of) what gives us our identity, and our shared identity is a good reason to create some sort of Union...
    But of course creating a Union is not only to acknowledge this shared identity; that seems quite futile. It also goes with a vision to build something... a shared future.
    Now this section was about common values. I think it's difficult to dissociate our identity from the values we support.
    Who are you? I'm french, I'm European... What makes me french, what makes me european? ... my culture?

    One thing I feel strongly in Europe is the weight of history. We tend to believe in ancestral recipes and admire the results of centuries fo collective learning... I feel that in Europe you can feel the centuries of learning pile up, and you can to some extent what you liked in those layers of history: l can live in a building that's 100 years old or a new one, I can help keep alive ancient traditions by buying cheeses or liquors (a french example :)) refined through centuries of learning... or eat at mcdonald's...
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    freedom, peace, law, prosperity, diversity and solidarity

    All jolly fine things, but not actually values per se. As principles on which society ought to operate, I’m sure most Europeans would happily agree on them. The problem is, none of them are unifying – in fact, they’re the absolute bedrock of civilised disagreement.

    Freedom – whose? The ongoing balancing act between one’s right to be “free from…” and “free to…” isn’t one that’s going to go away, and I can’t see there ever being pan-European agreement, if the difficulties that the UK and other states have had implementing the EU Human Rights legislation is anything to go by.

    Peace – at what cost? The UK is very much out-of-market with much of Europe in the way it weighs the desire for peace against the moral responsibility which comes with power. Admittedly, we seem fairly cheesed off as a nation with our current portfolio of foreign conflicts, yet at the point of starting the war in Iraq, public opinion was along the lines of “well, if he really is a threat to the region, then I suppose we ought to do something about it. After all, the UN doesn’t seem to be achieving much”. Whereas many of our NATO allies were ideologically opposed to intervention.

    Law – while we’ll all agree with the principle of settling disputes by referral to impartial arbitration, the responsibilities and penalties for breaching responsibilities vary substantially across the continent. Agreeing a common set of responsibilities is going to be as tricky as defining a common set of freedoms.

    Prosperity – again, huge differences between how much of one’s life one spends generating prosperity versus enjoying prosperity. I always love dealing with Italians, since it reminds me and my colleagues to take more holiday.

    Diversity – we’ll always be stuck with the paradox of liberalism that the only thing we can’t tolerate is intolerance. Current debates across Europe about the degree to which extremist groups (whether religious, political, environmental or ethical) should be accommodated indicate there isn’t going to be a common solution on this one.

    Solidarity – about what? You can’t have solidarity for its own sake, you need something to have solidarity on. Finding solidarity on any of the above seems jolly unlikely to me.

    More than anything, I worry that the values of the European project are almost entirely negative – being attempts to minimise differences and disagreements rather than being positive assertions about ways things ought to be. Personally, I love our differences, as I think they stimulate debate and competition (see the current debate about labour laws and corporate governance in France – much debate about whether a more anglo-saxon model can be found without compromising the fundamentals of being French). I’d hate to live in a Europe with a common set of values, because a single set of values implies a harmony and lack of change that is fundamentally contrary to progress. Vive la progress!
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Gerbera - I think you bring up a very interesting point. Perhaps Christianity should be a fundamental part of the EU. As the Middle East becomes progressively Islamic, perhaps we need to shore up our Christian credentials. I'd be a lot more supportive of the EU if it had a commitment to Christian values above political decisions at its core.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    vincevincevince, I think a lot of people see it your way and I partially do, too.
    But I think the problem is to say whether these values are really Christian or not. The three big monotheistic religions have a lot on common as they are all based in a common history. Christians share a lot of values with Jews and I think also with Muslims. I myself am atheistic but I my boyfriend is Christian, my best friend a Muslim and I also know Jews, so I know what I am talking about.
    Yesterday I was at a very interesting conference here in Brussels. The son of the assassinated Lebanese president Rafiq Hariri, Saad Hariri, was speaking about his country's future and the relationship with the EU. He mentioned some European values ("prosperity, unity, [...] human rights and above all: peace") and said that this were his values, too, as well as the values of the majority of the Lebanese people.
    Also if we did make Christianity a fundamental part of Europe, what about all those people of other confessions here? And the people without a confession? Wouldn't that be against the right to choose a religion freely?
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    I want to avoid criticising the EU, not because I have a lot of respect for it, but because this isn't the right forum for that.

    With that in mind... I suggest that the way in which Christian values could be included in the constitution, and in so doing create a true EU story, is:
    - Making the killing of other humans highly illegal in all circumstances and by all persons
    - Making modern healthcare available to all, free at the point of use
    - Providing a first class education for everyone, from pre-school to postgraduate level, free at the point of use
    - Ensuring prostitution and gay 'marriage' are illegal and prosecuting all parties involved
    - Banning abortion at the constitutional level
    - Enshrining the right to mission, worship and public display of religion
    - Making lying when involved in politics a criminal offence
    - Bringing in compulsory, income-related charity to be distributed both outside and inside the EU

    Pick any five from the above and put them in the constitution and I'd be the biggest EU fan around, and I'd be able to tell a true EU story to my grandchildren, about how the EU stood up for what's right against a world of shady politics and sin.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Just to be sure: you just want to add these things to the constitution without mentioning the word "Christian"? If so, I'd say that's great, except for these:
    "- Ensuring prostitution and gay 'marriage' are illegal and prosecuting all parties involved
    - Banning abortion at the constitutional level
    - Enshrining the right to mission, worship and public display of religion"

    I don't really care about prostitution but I don't think "gay marriage" should be illegal. It is a fact that there are a lot of people who are homosexual and they live together and love each other. There's no reason why they shouldn't have the same rights as heterosexuals.
    Abortion ... Big problem ... I think it should be the family's right to decide whether they want the child or not. Just imagine a raped woman (or 12 year old) that gets pregnant. Of course you could think about limitations like "only until the 10th week of the pregnacy" or something like that but I wouldn't ban it completely.
    Worship and public display of religion is great (as long as no religion is privileged) and at least in Germany a right granted by the constitution. The right to mission ... That depends on how that happens. I don't want people in the streets to come to me and try to mission me but when I go to a church or a temple or whatever that would be OK.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    vince,

    Christianity lays claim to many values which occur in other faiths, or in the minds of those with no faith. So these are "universal values". The EU should be based on "universal values".
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    gerbera - that's the difference between Christian values and general opinion on moral issues. The other issues should not be discussed here as they are clearly Christian values and this isn't the place to discuss theology, however with regard to mission - the expression of mission in all parts of the life of a Christian is pretty central to Christianity, whether you don't want people trying to 'mission you' or not, I think it needs to be protected by law. You make a good point about no religion being privileged, and I agree with that.

    GaryLondon - absolutely right. But Christianity also lays claim to some values which do not occur in those with no faith, and even some which do not occur in other faiths. Some of those with which gerbera has taken issue in the post above yours are examples of these
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    I would also like to thank TGA in the way Dickie phrased it at the beginning.

    Now from a German perspective, if I may please add my few “cents” following up on CityFinacier’s:

    freedom, peace, law, prosperity, diversity and solidarity

    first “practical? or constitutionally” Diversity:

    “I am an American from Texas” or from which other state of the Union ever, he or she introduces herself when meeting people in Europe, e.g. from Austria, who in the past would have responded, alright I am Österreicher but in these days might smile back, welcome to Europe I am a European from Austria.

    Funny thing about it, nowadays Americans, when asked, are travelling to Europe visiting f.e. the Netherlands.

    As to “diversity” the American lets his counterpart know, there are other Americans than Texans as would his Austrian friend make sure the guy from Texas is aware there are indeed other “diverse” Europeans than Austrians.

    Each state in the US has her own parliament, senate, secretary of state, own state senators, its own head of state, the governor, thus making sure the diversity of each single state within in the Union is preserved as much as possible based on being governed by the principle subsidiarity and one might add proportionality.

    No European politician or lawmaker in his right mind would want a European Constitution to scrap Kings, Grand Duke and Presidents, parliaments of the respective member states not only, in the first place to preserve said diversity, but also on the grounds to prevent a European President gaining such political power as US – President seemingly has accumulated. European federal parliaments and their analogues senates/Bundesrat/ House of Lords etc. would also make sure to preserve as much “national” diversity as possible.

    As to who constitutionally is going to be head of state of a United States of Europe (Churchill) let’s rotate, paying tribute to diversity, just as has been done up to the present which should be interesting, also in matter of protocol, a Queen of Europe, a King of Europe, a Grand Duke of Europe or President of Europe, how much more diversity do we want!?; the whole of the EU getting a day of celebrating the Queen’s birthday, should it be her turn, and a vivid example of splendid diversity watching each EU- Army marching f.e. in Tallinn, Prague, Athens, etc. in Her Honor.

    As to the matter of how to accommodate “extremist groups” in the end it will be matter of referral to the Constitutional Courts of any member state or to European Courts of Human Rights in Strasbourg, which one day might be elevated to kind of a Supreme Court of the EU.