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Home >> Opinion
UPDATED: 15:19, April 30, 2007
A soul for Europe
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The European Union celebrated in late March its fiftieth anniversary of the signature of the Treat of Rome which symbolized the formation of the EU and issued the Berlin Declaration. During the celebration, all the big museums in Berlin opened to the public. It attracted many people to come and look at the fine arts in Europe during different historical period. All the politicians talked about and to the EU citizens indicating that they are talking to all the Europeans. And look at the logo of the EU, 'together', it also gives a graphic interpretation to the voice of all Europeans.

In Germany, people wondered whether there hade been a referendum in Germany about the EU Constitution, would it have been passed? The answer is that most of the Germans feel it could have hardly been passed. Some German politicians think that since they are not sure it will be passed by the referendum, they don't want to decide the EU Constitution this way. They rather let the EU Parliament decide it.

In 2005, France and Holland vetoed the EU Constitution through their referendum. It was as if a shock for the EU politicians. It seems that in the human history, people have to admit that there is a gap between the thoughts of the elites and the ordinary people. The Elites think of the future while the ordinary people only cares about their present interest. So no matter how good a thought is, if it cannot bring good benefit immediately, it is hard to win understanding and support from the public.

When the EU was formed in 1957, it was aiming at avoiding war in Europe again since it had experienced two world wars. Now 50 years later, when the EU has a population of 450 million, when people enjoy free entrance and exit of each other's borders and most countries use the unified currency, the EURO, many EU citizens suddenly found that their living standards and the social welfare they enjoy seem to be lower than their fathers. Compared with many newly emerged developing countries, the EU economy seems to be stagnant and the unemployment rate is too high and prices are rising.

People blame the EU for the slow economic growth, low employment and deteriorating social guarantees. In fact, analysts believe that if there were not united Europe, the situation could have been even worse. But many ordinary EU citizens didn't see this point, even if they see it, they don't want to admit it. They want to have higher requirement to the politicians. They like to ask such questions: "Do we really need a constantly expanding Europe?, Do we have the same culture?"

Politicians have to think more about the EU citizens so that they can participate in the construction of the integration process of the EU. In addition to understanding of the European history, it is better to use the cultural potential to push the EU politics and let culture become the new impetus for the EU integration.

The opening of the large museums indeed make people feel the essence of the European Culture. Various large events being held in the museums show that people still recognize and respect the European culture and history. A good example is that politicians signed their Berlin Declaration in the German Historic Museum.

Since the beginning of 2004, Berlin holds an international seminar titled 'A soul for Europe' every two years. In November 2006, about 300 delegates participated in the second Berlin seminar discussing the proposals and ideas on how the European culture can give impetus to the European construction. About the European cultural character, participants gave many explanations: the European culture is tolerance, diversity and community; it is not a single culture; the European culture advocates freedom and responsibility which is the second fundamental value of the European Culture. The European culture advocates rule of law, but does not follow the logic of the super power; Europe advocates the peaceful solution of cultural conflict, but doesn't support the point of view that 'war is the continuity of politics and other method.' Europe advocates creative culture. These explanations are completely included in the Berlin Declaration. This indicates that the EU politicians have paid more and more attention to the voice of the common citizens.

Culture is an abstract concept, but it is also specific. European culture and history will give some new impetus to the EU integration process. The key is how to apply the cultural concepts into the practical life and let the abstract cultural force turn into specific driving force. The EU politicians need to continue to explore this.

If one thinks the EU constitution is the specific form of 'Soul' for Europe, then the culture will be the intangible 'Soul' for Europe.

By People's Daily Online

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