Scy-Chazelles and Metz (France)
12-15 March 2020, 100 participants
Symposium just before the start of the SARS-CoV-2 health crisis.
LEARNING TO LIVE TOGETHER, TODAY IN EUROPE &
DEVELOPING A CULTURE OF DEMOCRACY
Meeting under the patronage of Ms Marija Pejcinovic Buric, Secretary General of the Council of Europe
70th anniversary of the Robert Schuman Declaration of 9 May 1950.
Perhaps we need to take a step outside the European Union to see how it is perceived in the world: an area of peace, freedom and prosperity guaranteed by the rule of law. Of course, we who are inside know that not everything is perfect, that there are too many inequalities, too much poverty, too much exclusion. But many of our fellow Europeans no longer appreciate how lucky we are to live in peace, to enjoy freedom of expression, assembly and movement. A democracy that allows the expression of diversity, a justice system that guarantees a fair trial, functioning administrations, access to education and health care, help for the most disadvantaged: all this seems so self-evident to us. Of course, everything can be improved, but it is there, and it is sorely lacking in many parts of the world.
To understand what is at stake in Europe, the present is not enough. We must look back to where we came from, to this continent torn apart by too many wars. Then measure the road travelled, assess what is going well today, but also what is going badly in Europe and denounce the populist, ultra- or illiberal, authoritarian or other aberrations. Above all, we need to look to the future and think about what kind of Europe we want.
It is up to the young people of today to imagine the world they want to live in tomorrow and to try to do all they can to ensure that this world offers a place and a dignified life for all. This implies a trust in the future, a trust that the best is always possible, even if it can never be taken for granted. Therefore, in the second part of their meetings, the Europe Houses want to work on learning how to live together in Europe today and tomorrow.
Democratic culture – it is up to us to make it a reality.
Democracy is a culture, not a technique for which it is enough to borrow the tools. It is based on freedom: pluralism of thought and action, respect, checks on power and balance. It can only develop in an atmosphere of respect, discussion and debate; it presupposes civility.
Illiberal democracies seek to restrict freedoms: political, social, economic and freedom of movement. Education plays an essential role in promoting the fundamental values of European integration: democracy, human rights and the rule of law, and in preventing human rights violations. Education also helps to combat the rise of violence, racism, extremism, xenophobia, discrimination and intolerance.
The aim of the federal meetings
The 100 participants analysed the current challenges and opportunities in the field of education for a democratic culture and coexistence in Europe; they shared examples of good practice and experiences from their work on the ground. They proposed recommendations for the joint development of future actions, including specific criteria and mechanisms for evaluating progress, in particular within the Council of Europe’s Reference Framework on Competences for a Culture of Democracy.
THE REFERENCE FRAMEWORK OF COMPETENCES FOR A CULTURE OF DEMOCRACY is guided by the priorities and values of both the Council of Europe and the European Union (Declaration on Promoting Education for Citizenship and the Common Values of Freedom, Tolerance and Non-Discrimination, Paris, March 2015): Equality, Dignity and Respect. It identifies the competences that should be taught in formal and non-formal education and that are necessary to equip our young citizens with the values, attitudes, skills and knowledge and critical understanding they need to participate actively in today’s complex and diverse democratic European societies. This requires a greater awareness of the many aspects of modern life and the current challenges.