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Creating Europe: top-down or bottom-up?

In 2012, prominent Europeans such as Jacques Delors (former President of the Commission) and philosopher Jürgen Habermas, published a letter in The Guardian. They wanted to ‘establish a counter model to the Europe of elites and technocrats, and re-establish its political creativity and legitimacy’ and proposed the introduction of a ‘European Year of Volunteering for Everyone’.

‘The aim is to democratise the national democracies in order to rebuild Europe in the spirit of the rallying cry: “Don’t ask what Europe can do for you but ask what you can do for Europe – by doing Europe!”’ they wrote, echoing John F. Kennedy’s famous statement some fifty years earlier. Remember that our notion of culture as reflection on what humans do encompasses politics: European politics is part of European culture. ‘Doing Europe’ is thus as much a political act as it is a cultural act.

The proposal is as much an intervention into politics as it is into culture. Through volunteering at home and abroad, citizens are to get a feeling for Europe. In economically and politically difficult times such as the year 2012, a bottom-up Europe could emerge out of citizens volunteering, the authors hoped.

You can read the whole article here. While reading, think about whether you think this bottom-up Europe is possible.

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European Culture and Politics

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