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    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    How, if at all, do Prof. Garton Ash's 'Six Goals' connect with the 'goal' of having a European Constitution?
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Good Question.

    The Constitution will decide if Europe will be democratic or,, more old fashipon euro style.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    This is Timothy Garton Ash (hereafter TGA) speaking. The answer to John R is that I do not think a European identity or sense of shared purpose can be built around the kind of semi-constitutional treaty which it is feasible for the EU of 27 member states to adopt in the near future.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Indeed, as TGA wrote in the 'Prospect' 'To impose uniformity in the praise of diversity would be a contradiction' . However, I do feel that the metaphor TGA uses of 'bone structure' with 'flesh' being the local contribution, does imply a degree of commonality. I'm puzzled. What I don't quite understand is what the ideal result would be from the launching of this debate. What will be woven together and by whom? If not a Constitution, then should I imagine a book, or a movie, or a website, with 'chapter headings' coinciding with the 'Six Goals' and then 'local or regional' stories illustrating those abstract ideas in concrete form? Will each region have its own version? Or is it a question of a more fluid series of debates and conclusions and story-telling with no 'product' ? A 'vision of where we want to go' [TGA] is sorely needed! But what might it look like?
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Good question, John.
    I personally would like movies, books, maybe open discussions - just all that makes people aware of the fact that there is something that binds us together. But it should be something that appeals to all Europeans, not just a small group of people discussing.

    I don't think you can build a constitution from what is discussed here alone - a constitution needs more, needs institutional and legal frameworks, guarantied rights, etc.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Exactly, the idea of European unification is inherently linked to the existence of a common sense of "belonging together", which is what ultimately allows states to exist, and what is, sadly, lacking at the moment. I think one of the priorities of Europe at the moment should be creating that feeling, and sending 1% of students on Erasmus trips won't be enough. In order to achieve that, we need to point out our common values (the "six goals"), but we can also remind people of how close they are, to get rid of that national imagery built on rejection of other Europeans.

    However I don't think we need to rule out any kind of equivalent of national imageries. That is, not an equivalent of the way they were built, but of their usefulness when it comes to bringing people together. It is strange how the elites have pointed out how much Europeans have in common culturally (in a wider sense) since C16th, and how the "average" citizen is still stuck in national imagery, which often implies a complete misunderstanding of how close they are to their neighbours. But there are some common ideas, cultural "meeting points", that could represent Europe. I think it would be easy to create means to express these ideas, that would be the same for everyone since they could mean something to all Europeans. After all, wherever you look in history or in political principles today, Europeans share an awful lot. And these things we share are what should inspire us for the future. Apart from the "six goals", they could also include references to the past. Of course we can't live on previous wars forever, but what about using cultural currents as a means to show the contacts and proximity between Europeans throughout history? Enlightenment has always fascinated me for instance, so many intellectuals from all over Europe sharing more ideas than they do now, with all the technological evolutions that are supposed to make communication easier.

    So yes, films, books, Europe is lacking all means of expressing itself as an entity, and all of these would be good. The ideas that bind us together would make a very good Declaration of rights to be the first part of a Constitution, of course I too believe that institutional frameworks need to be included.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    In short - common cultural artefacts, in the broadest sense. This has to go beyond art into our debates and philosophies. In fact, I think that the approach here is on a hiding to nothing, but I'll go on about that in more detail.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Yes, this idea that we should put more weight into the common culture and art is quite good. You can see that since centuries every development in art and culture spread throughout the whole of Europe after it was developed in one country - and it didn't make a difference from which country it came or even wether this country might even be in conflict with others. Culture and art often were strong bridges between the people of Europe.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    There seems to be an underlying optimism here which I hope is representative. I'd really like to hear more about what people think we should be doing as 'good' Europeans to celebrate commonality-in-diversity as well as pride in our own local and national traditions.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Well, for instance, "Europeanize" education! This would not mean abandoning national particularities. But for example, at primary school, teach children about all the countries in Europe and "fun facts" about them, to make them familiar without any prejudices being involved. Just being able to identify every EU country on a map by the age of 10 is very easy and would be a good start. Get people used to the EU flag, hymn, and values, to make them feel like they are really their own.
    In secondary schools, teach pupils about, for instance, the humanist movement by studying all the great authors (eg in France, not only Rabelais but also Erasmus, etc), getting rid of that idea that each cultural movement "is" only the national artists but that it had equivalents elsewhere in Europe. That's easy: in the textbook, next to Shelley and Keats, put Victor Hugo and Bécquer.
    Also, make children as familiar with the European "founding fathers" as they are with their national heroes. Eg, an Englishman should know about Richard "lion heart" and Henry VIII, but also about Robert Schuman and Jean Monnet. He should also become familiar with the fact that his country's leading politicians were often in favour of European integration and why (cf Churchill's speech about the "United states of Europe")...
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Concerning the "Europeanization" of education I would like to share my positive impressions with you: My little neighbor sometimes comes to ask me for help with his homework, especially when he has research to do on the internet (his family doesn't have a internet connection at home). Lately we have been looking up the flags of the EU27 and the history of the European integration process (he had to color the countries on a map in accordance to the year in which they joined the Community).
    I agree that school is one of the best/most important places for telling the European Story - luckily most teachers seem to be Europeans in their hearts.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    I can't imagine a European constitution that isn't heavily influenced (if not based on) TGA's six strands.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    TGA, if I am reading/listening correctly, you support the principle of "subsidiarity" above all others?
    For the EU definition see :http://europa.eu/scadplus/glossary/subsidiarity_en.htm
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Sorry for being off-topic, too, but: To europeanize education would be good, I think. I think mostly elder people that were born and educated before there was the EU don't feel european. 20- and 30-somethings are more positive. I think this is because they were born and raised with the knowledge of Europe. Also the Shengen-agreement and the Euro helped a lot, now you can travel easiely and visit all those great countries and cities we have in Europe. That helps to identify with our continent and the Union.
    Brussels, where I live at the moment, is the most european city I've ever been to. Here you hear and see people from all over Europe, there are parties, festivals and vernisages with a european background nearly every day. I know that this is mostly because of all the EU-institutions but it's great. Just this week I have been to party organized by the Welsh representation to the EU - they celebrated St. David's Day. And there were people from a lot of other EU-countries to celebrate with them, and not only because of the great food and drinks the offered ;) I think that's a good exemple of Nation and Europe coming together.
    And you find similar things in the other big european cities. Only in the countryside that's different, here there should be more happening.

    I don't think a consitution will make the people feel more european but maybe it makes it easier to accept the EU as it will change some things like giving the parliament more power. That makes the EU more democratic and I think all countries agree that this is a good thing. Also, not having several treaties but having 1 constitution maybe makes EU law easier to understand which is also positive becuase a lot of people don't like the EU because they do not understand how it works.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    gerbera - you might want to refer here about making Education european: http://www.europeanstory.net/forum/comments.php?DiscussionID=7&page=1
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    I think that rather than starting with a bunch of (admirable) principles and *then* asking what kind of constitution we need, we should first ask who the constitution is for: individuals, countries, businesses etc. Presumably we are talking about a document that speaks at a somewhat higher level than the mechanics of majority voting and so on. As a start, the suggestions for Europeanizing education sound excellent to me.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    I advise all participants in this forum to read the responses here:
    http://newsforums.bbc.co.uk/nol/thread.jspa?sortBy=2&threadID=5825&edition=1&ttl=20070323060204&#paginator

    Please let us know how these responses change your views...
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    vince,

    I doesn't change my views because I have now given up on the BBC "Have your say" section. Everytime there is any question posted the right wing crawls out from under its shell and systematically inundates the site with anti-government, anti-EU mindless moronicism. The BBC claim that this is a moderated site and I have asked them repeatedly to do something about their moderation because it doesn't produce a balanced proportional response.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    GaryLondon,

    Moderation is about removing things which are unacceptable, such as personal attacks and the incitement of crimes. It is not about making public opinion seem divided on every issue. On many issues, the vast majority of the public are in agreement. If the BBC was to put an undue emphasis upon the small minority which object then you would have every right to complain.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    vince,

    The right use the the BBC "Have your say" site to give a distorted view of public opinion. It is, therefore, no longer a trustworthy source.

    The YouGov website is much more reliable. Here is a recent survey which will support your view:
    http://www.yougov.com/archives/pdf/SYK060101003.pdf
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    With apologies for being off topic...

    GaryLondon - you are, of course, right. Have Your Say has never been a 'trustworthy source' and it is biased towards those who are likely to be reading the BBC News website and have an interest in having their say on politics and current affairs. It is a biased group before you start.

    One of the reasons I try to contribute to this forum is related to that very point. A forum on the 'european story' is likely to attract europhiles out-of-proportion to the europhobes in the EU at large. If you take the number of posters positive about the EU here as a percentage of all posters and compare it to the percentage of people who actually want to be in the EU, I feel sure you will find my fears were vindicated. By the same token, that is why it is important for the UKIP to be in the EU parliament - if the only people with influence are those who think one way - then those with opposing views get sidelined and forgotten very easily.

    On the other hand, 'Have your say' is a good way to get a lot of different opinions to consider. It should not be regarded as a poll or a vote, but as a general message board on a particular subject. I spend time reading through the responses not to form a view, but in order that I might gain an appreciation of other viewpoints, be informed of the different ways in which an issue affects people and to be amused by the dry humour.