Why is unity in diversity important

EP blog
Unity in diversity

In their cultures and traditions, the European countries show many similarities to one another, partly because of their common historical roots and religion (s), but at the same time they also differ - as a result of different geographical conditions, historical experiences, social and religious influences - in very many ways from each other.
In the past, these differences often gave rise to conflicts and intolerance among one another. However, in the past six decades or more, the European Union has done a lot to uncover how similar European cultures are despite their diversity, that each of them has its own values ​​and, above all, that culture is conceptually only relatively comprehensible, and thus no culture can be made absolute - especially because the content of culture is constantly changing. Culture shapes us, and in the same way we are always shapers of culture. And the requirement to get to know, understand and respect other cultures is part of the culture.
That is why the Lisbon Treaty pays particular attention to culture. One of the most important objectives of the Union is described in the treaty as “preserving the richness of its cultural and linguistic diversity” and “protecting and developing the cultural heritage of Europe”. [1]
The European Union therefore plays a role above all in the preservation of cultures and cultural heritage, in mutual exploration of cultures and in promoting intercultural dialogue. Their competence does not extend to the shaping of culture, but rather lies in the protection and promotion of culture. The shaping of culture - cultural policy - remains primarily a national or regional and local responsibility.

Free movement and Erasmus

Several European achievements and programs serve to promote and publicize the cultures of Europe. Freedom of movement within the Union is of particular importance, as efforts to get to know cultures would have only moderate success without freedom of movement.
In this case, the concept of freedom of movement does not just mean the free movement of people across borders, which promotes tourism within Europe, but also that every European citizen has the right to opt for shorter or longer periods without having to ask for any permission Time to stay, work and even be creative in other Member States. Everyone is free to do so, especially since the diplomas obtained in other member countries are mutually and automatically recognized by the member countries.
An almost time-honored funding program strengthens the opportunity to move around freely and to get to know cultures: the more than thirty-year-old “Erasmus” program, supplemented by “Erasmus Plus”. The Erasmus program was originally launched to enable students to study at foreign universities. Since 1987, nine million students have received financial support in this way. Over time, Erasmus has grown into a much larger program: it is now open not only to students, but also to other individuals (professionals, teachers, athletes, etc.) and organizations, and not only for study purposes, but also to promote education and training , Research and sport. The budget currently has around 15 billion euros available for this. The nine million students who have been funded over the past thirty years were able to gather experiences and make friends and contacts in addition to their studies in the context of musical and other cultural events. These experiences are likely to last a lifetime and may even be passed on to younger generations - which will facilitate the growth of a European generation and the development of a common consciousness.

Cultural and natural heritage

Numerous programs promote the preservation of cultural and natural heritage in Europe: resources for renewal, protection and development are primarily available from the European Regional Development Fund, but also from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, the LIFE program or even grants are provided by the Norwegian Fund.
The European Union has declared 2018 the European Year of Cultural Heritage in order to also draw attention to Europe's common heritage. On this subject, the Commission has organized and financed a number of programs - exhibitions, artistic events, conferences, competitions and cultural projects - in each Member State throughout the year. In addition to promoting the appreciation of cultural heritage, this program package has set itself the goal of strengthening the feeling of belonging to the common European area, further deepening the awareness of EU citizens in dealing with cultural heritage and for its protection, as well as for the Need to raise awareness that cultural heritage should be passed on to future generations. The motto of the year was: "Our legacy: the link between the past and the future".

European Capital of Culture

The European Union adopted the “European City of Culture” program in 1985 on the proposal of the Greek Minister of Culture at the time, Melina Mercouri. Since then this has become one of the best known and most popular programs in Europe. The title “European Capital of Culture” and the associated financial support will be awarded to the applicant cities for one year as part of a selection process. As a rule, the Council of the European Union appoints those cities as European Capital of Culture which, in addition to national cultural content, also have a European dimension, and which, in addition to strengthening the active participation of urban and European citizens, also promote the long-term economic development of the given city. The increased media attention naturally also opens up opportunities for the city to promote tourism and culture. Fifty cities have been named cultural capital in the past twenty years. B. Pécs won the title in 2010 and Veszprém in 2023.

Creative Europe

In the 2013-2020 budget period, the Creative Europe program supports cultural and creative projects that help preserve Europe's cultural and linguistic diversity, increase the competitiveness of the cultural and creative sector and promote audiovisual media. The previous “MEDIA” programs of the EU are now also part of “Creative Europe”.
Although the Union is mainly responsible for programs to support and complement national cultural policy in the field of culture, it can be summarized that the EU seeks not only to strengthen national cultural identity, but at the same time - through its very existence and through their cultural programs - also to contribute to the development of a kind of European identity and a feeling of togetherness in Europe. But is there a common awareness of Europe? Many answer this question in the negative, but the gradual development of the EU and the increasing strength of the community of values ​​are shaping the consciousness, the way of thinking and also the culture of the citizens of the Union. The fact that the younger generations speak more and more languages, visit more and more countries, and that they stretch their human contacts across borders and national cultures shows us that a kind of European culture and common identity can also exist without a common language or a common “history book” can emerge.
Perhaps one of the best evidence of this was provided by the results of the 2018 Eurobarometer survey “Parlameter”. Probably not entirely independent of the referendum on Brexit and the UK's exit plans, 62% of European citizens think that being a member of the Union is a good thing. This is the highest figure since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. According to the survey, 66% - almost two thirds - of European citizens would vote for their country to remain in the EU if it had to be voted on. One factor here is that European identity has grown in content for many; it is no longer just about a continent, but much more. Above all, it is thanks to culture that European identity is in the making - which in no way contradicts national identity, but rather complements it. If we do not miss our common European project, the common European cultural identity can become even more natural for future generations.

The title of this post - Unity in diversity - has been the slogan of the European Union since 2000.

[1] Article 3 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. This is complemented by Article 6, which states that the Union "is responsible for implementing measures to support, coordinate or complement the activities of the Member States".
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