Europe: changing landscape.
With few exceptions, quite mechanically and irrespective of the theme broached, the answers to the questionnaire bear witness to a desire to favour one’s own culture, one’s own history and one’s own “performances”. National identity (cultural, political, social…) clearly gains the upper hand over a sense of belonging to the entity that is Europe, when it doesn’t explicitly doubt the homogeneousness and virtues which result from it. The fervent nationalism that is typical in periods of crisis? Falling back on one’s identity when faced with the slow progress of a Europe which is seeking its identity in numerous domains, when it isn’t simply and openly “floundering”? Let’s not close our eyes to the reality of the situation; worry, disillusion and confusion(s) are all present. But their counterparts are there too, albeit vague, too timidly expressed and in need of being prised out: against the adversity and hesitations – like a never-ending building site - of “European construction”, a real open-mindedness, a certain objectivity, a desire to really “believe in it”.
A rather mixed assessment then; which should only partly surprise us. This prevailing pessimism is also a result, and admittedly this is paradoxical, of a surplus of wealth on the part of each of the partners in the jigsaw. Why wouldn’t the Italian consider his own cuisine to be the best in the world (especially when it’s an objective opinion…)? The fact that chauvinism sometimes wins the day is not something which should unduly bother us. If we read between the lines and between the figures, the results of the survey seem to me to be encouraging in this respect: fundamental values – open humanism, freedom of speech and of opinion, cultural diversity, the desire for peace, the pre-eminence of democracy over and above the arbitrary nature of political and social behaviour - remain a fundamental preoccupation; the overriding preoccupation. In “De l’Allemagne”, Madame de Stael wrote that “in this modern day and age you need to have the European spirit”. The context alters, the narrative shifts, the landscape is changing: at least the spirit remains…