Home › Forums › 09. Article VII – The Citizens, the States, and the Federation › Preservation of cultural identity
14 March 2022 at 14:38 #2713Fabrice LuijtenParticipant
Although technically there is no real need for an extra provision that the federation will provide protection for the cultural identities that are found within Europe, I think it to be wise to explicitly formulate how at the Federal level the rights to your own cultural identity shall be protected. The reason I say there is no technical necessity is because it has been stated in other parts of the constitution already, specifically within the preamble. And for the rest, cultural identity as a policy matter will be handled in the same way as other policy terrains, not needing a status of its own. However, I fear that one of largest the criticisms of a Federal Europe will be that it will result in the assimilation of all the wonderfully diverse cultures on the continent. And that if this sentiment isn’t rightly addressed, it will prevent the constitution to come in to being altogether. In this regard, Europe’s history leading up to federalism is very different than the history of the USA. Also, I think that a Federal Europe might even be better suited in protecting cultural diversity than the current treaty-based system, but this needs to become very clear to the current political parties that are against ‘more Europe’ and would like to reclaim more national sovereignty. So I fear that if we do not make this aspect as explicit as we can, one of the unique selling points of a Federal Europe will be held against the federation by conservative forces.
I think in order to come to a clause that formulates how the European Federal Union wishes to protect the cultural diversity on the continent the following steps are in order:
1. Explicitly define what is meant by cultural diversity or the protection of cultural identity (based on Martin, 2002)
2. Explicitly define the definition on citizenship: liberal, libertarian of republican (based on Miller, 1995)
3. Formulate some principles on what is necessary to successfully protect the cultural diversity within Europe
4. Translate these principles into a constitutional clause
Below I share my two cents on these four principal issues.
I think we should adopt a differentiation perspective on culture as meant by Martin (2002): within Europe there is an indefinite number of subcultures with differences regarding language, dialect, cultural customs, religious beliefs, diet, etc. The explicit recognition of these differences should be possible on a state or federal level. Just like we have the UNESCO to protect the cultural heritage of architecture, there could be a European organism in which a specific (sub)culture can be filed to have a protected status.
The definition on citizenship should contain both libertarian and republican elements, as defined by Miller (1995): libertarian where possible, in the sense that the Federation explicitly states that it will not meddle/interfere in the expression of cultural identity, unless the expression of cultural identity threatens the values as expressed in the preamble. If a libertarian approach of citizenship doesn’t suffice to ensure culturally diverse prosperity (when the expression of one culture inhibits the expression of another culture. For instance when religious beliefs regarding homosexuality lead to violence against people of the LGBTI-community (I am a bit lost on what the latest abbreviation is)), then a republican approach to citizenship is preferable. Meaning that the best way to mediate between the different cultural expressions will be by citizens who actively participate within the political and decision-making processes within the federation and that the outcome of the debate will state how to deal with incompatible cultural differences. Practically involving the entire trias politica in conserving the cultural diversity of Europe:
– The legislative branch to make culturally inclusive laws that allow people to freely express their culture as in so far their expression does not hinder the cultural expression of others.
– The executive branch to enforce these laws
– The judicial branch to resolve conflicts between individuals or cultural groups based on these laws.
If I resume what I said under Ad 1. and Ad 2. this will boil down to the following principles:
– The federation will not interfere in cultural live, unless the expression of culture threatens the values as expressed within the preamble (Preamble)
– Cultural diversity can be explicitly claimed by a cultural group (Article VII)
– The federation vows to protect cultural diversity as much as it can by enforcing the culturally inclusive laws (Preamble)
– People are free to express their culture as long as it doesn’t limit the cultural expression of others (Article VII)
– In case of incompatible cultural differences, the political and decision making processes within the legislative branch is the primary place where we should look for a robust and timeless solution (long term cultural mediation) (Article VII)
– Conflicts between cultural groups are to be settled in court (short term cultural mediation) (Article VII)
This leaves room for the mentioning of the following clauses within article VII (derived from Ad 3.):
– Cultural diversity can be explicitly claimed by a cultural group
– People are free to express their culture as long as it doesn’t limit the cultural expression of others
– In case of incompatible cultural differences, the political and decision making processes within the legislative branch is the primary place where we should look for a robust and timeless solution (long term cultural mediation)
– Conflicts between cultural groups are to be settled in court (short term cultural mediation)
To conclude, I believe the cultural preservation of diversity should be something that is dealt with at a federal level and not at a national level, since most cultural aspects transcend national frontiers.
Needless to say, I am open to suggestions regarding this topic.
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