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Culturelink review, no.40/August 2003 - contents - imprint - archive

An Open Letter to the European Convention: The Place of Culture and Education within the New Constitution

The European Cultural Foundation, the European Forum for the Arts and Heritage and the European Policy Centre organized a Policy Colloquium in Brussels on 2 April 2003 to discuss the place of culture and education in the European Convention. On this occasion, an open letter drafted by Rickard von Weizsäcker, the former President of Germany, and co-signed by some of Europe's most distinguished individuals, was publicly released and subsequently published in some of the major European newspapers.

An Open Letter to the European Convention: The Place of Culture and Education within the New Constitution

Europe has gone a long way down the road of 'growing together' over the past fifty years. The painful historical experiences of a nationalism that led to two world wars and the tense Cold War atmosphere that followed - these spurred us on to make such a journey. The road ahead is not less daunting than the road we have travelled. We must seize our opportunity - ours since 1989 after all - to make a fragmented Europe whole again.

After the last War, political ideals profoundly shared by the people gave us an enthusiasm for Europe. Now there is talk of 'interests'. Now the people of Europe have lost sight of 'Europe'. They feel left out. Today, can we say with any certainty that it is still possible to experience a satisfying, politically solid, spontaneous sense of being a European?

Europe has new work to do, creative tasks unknown before:

  • It must create those institutions that are needed and be crystal clear on which responsibilities are 'national' and which 'European';
  • It must make possible a gradual ripening of a new, apparently double sense of belonging to Europe while maintaining the ties that link one to the land of one's birth.

'Interests' are sufficient? Hardly.

The essence of a consciousness of common European identity is culture. To protect and promote culture is one of the most important tasks in Europe today.

We, the undersigned, appeal therefore to the European Convention, that it give a prominent place to education and culture in the Constitutional Treaty which it is currently drafting.

This would signal to Europe's citizens that they too carry the burden of responsibility for the functioning of democracy - by practising the art of understanding one another. Active, innovative support for culture is crucial in this respect.

Unity in diversity is the cultural essence of Europe. Culture in a Europe which is growing together means learning to live together. Nothing links people more than mutual understanding and respect.

A future Europe requires a cultural policy that is a sensible addition to the national policies of the member states - a cultural policy of diversity and affinity, of singularity and commonality, no less deserving of our efforts and our resources than the more lauded economic and social policies.

That is why we support the efforts of European institutions, civil society organizations, artists and cultural actors who are working to encourage the EU to:

  • reinforce its social and cultural cohesion by recognizing the integral place of education and culture in the EU within the preamble to the draft Treaty;
  • confirm its commitment to cooperation in education and culture by maintaining the content of Articles 150 and 151 (which fully endorse subsidiarity) and making both subject to Qualified Majority Voting;
  • locate education and culture within the framework of 'shared competences' rather than an ambiguous category of 'supporting actions' (a title specifically related to education, youth and culture is needed);
  • take cultural aspects into account in other policy areas of the Union;
  • foresee an explicit mandate for promoting cooperation with third countries in order to promote intercultural understanding in the context of globalization.

For more information, please visit: http://www.eurocult.org, http://www.efah.org

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Enlargement of Minds

Pat Cox, president of the European Parliament, has agreed to be the patron of the ECF's Enlargement of Minds action line on the cultural dimensions of the EU enlargement. The first Enlargement of Minds seminar, 'Crossing Perspectives', took place in Amsterdam's Theatre Institute from 16-18 June 2003. It resulted in a participants' Manifesto for Cultural Cooperation with South East Europe, which calls for a greater role for culture in creating strong ties between South East Europe and the EU.

The enlargement of the EU in 2004 makes this task urgent indeed. The specific proposals include the establishment of a SEE/EU forum for cultural cooperation; the removal of bureaucratic obstacles to artistic mobility, and the improvement of cultural information access.

For the full text of the manifesto go to http://www.eurocult.org/pdfdb/intro/manifesto.doc

For more on Enlargement of Minds, please visit: http://www.eurocult.org/

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PLOTEUS, a Portal on Learning Opportunities Throughout Europe

Take a look at the NEW European Commission mobility website http://www.ploteus.net

PLOTEUS (a Portal on Learning Opportunities Throughout Europe) creates a Europe-wide service providing information on jobs and learning opportunities. The work of identifying and classifying the information resources is carried out by the National Resources Centres from Vocational Guidance (Euroguidance). The project is managed by the European Commission, DG Education and Culture.