Stella Ghervas

3. The values of political Europe

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Seminar directed by Stella Ghervas
Institute for Advanced Studies (IEA) - Paris (France)

3rd session: “The values of political Europe: a unifying force or a source of discord?”
Tuesday 27 October 2009, 2:00–6:00 PM, IEA - Paris (France)

The authors of the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (2005) and the Treaty of Lisbon (2007) banked on “European values” in order to provide a consensual definition for Europe. Yet this attempt appears to have somewhat missed the target, since debates eventually focused on fundamental differences, i.e. dichotomies, such as national independence vs. a supranational state, social democracy vs. economic liberalism, religion vs. the secular state, etc. In this case, the twin logic of the individual versus the general, which can be politically fertile when well mastered (as witness the Swiss Confederation), seems to have gone beyond the control of the promoters of the EU.

This relative failure prompts at least three questions: does this value-based definition actually provide Europe with clear political objectives? Is it sufficient to delineate European citizenship with regard to itself and to the rest of the world? Lastly, could it really inspire a popular sentiment of belonging, able to mobilise citizens?

During this session, we shall compare this value-based approach with other parallel attempts to define Europe, e.g. by the search of a pre-existing shared “identity” or by highlighting a common historical experience, while exploring new and original avenues for reflection.