Culture Action Europe’s appeal for the European Elections 2014 (Satis Shroff)
Europe faces challenges today that cannot be compared with earlier decades: people live longer, natural resources fade, jobs are scarce – and there is no going back.
Since 2008, Europeans have been told that we are living a crisis, the worst since 1929. Each year, we have been told that it will get better. Each year, reality proves differently.
The reality In Europe is not appropriately described as a crisis. Rather it must be seen as a transition, from one world order into another one. Either this transition will lead Europe to growing inequalities or to a new social agreement based on sustainability and the fulfillment of human rights for the current and future generations. The shape it will take depends on choices we make now. Europe has all necessary assets, tangible and cultural, to build a sustainable future: we must invest in them now!
Social, not economic, growth must be the priority for contemporary Europe. Enhancing people’s cultural competence, our capacity for cooperation and critical thinking, our openness to diversity, our curiosity: all of this is essential to develop a sustainable society where rights, responsibilities and shared well-being can
grow. The Arts and Sciences powerfully contribute to such capacities, as does accessible education for all and the scrupulous fulfillment of all human rights.
It is time for decision-makers and citizens alike to form a broader discourse on the future of Europe, underlining cultural development as a strategic necessity.
The democratic gap in decision-making must be filled. The 2014 elections are an opportunity to reconnect institutions with European citizens. Only 33% of EU citizens trust the European institutions, according to a recent opinion survey led by eurobarometer. This is a crisis of legitimacy. It is a failure.
People’s hopes, fears and priorities deserve answers that cannot be subordinated to the demands of the financial markets. We must develop a political project based on culture and learning, an appropriate response to a political, social, cultural, and economic, emergencies. It is not more consumption that we need in Europe. We need ethics and quality in all aspects of life.
Europe faces rising nationalism, even racism. The European project must not fail to meet this challenge. An attractive and serious alternative must be formed to engage Europeans. A narrative of inclusion and shared space must be designed. This is a cultural mission. Local governments are in the frontline and major
allies in this endeavour: their voices must count in the decision-making of a fully democratic Europe.