General Meeting – May 2003

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The word culture is difficult to define.  Which reports maintain the culture and the cultures ? In any case the culture and the cultures are major components of the personal identity and found the democracy.

My matter is not to look further into these questions, but to examine how to guarantee the respect of the culture, to cause the cultural creativity and more generally to anchor a food-growing policy to the direction where we hear it with the SEC.

Questions of means and methods.

I will examine successively, under the angle thus means and methods, initially the crop protection heard in the singular as in the plural then his promotion ; in other words problems of the conservation of the culture then the question of the access to the culture and finally that of the “promotion” of the culture about the international scene, its “marketing” if this term can be used. This short communication will fit mainly in the historical and political field of the EU in the broad sense i.e. after her now close widening.

1. Conservation of the cultural heritage

The preamble to the Charter of the basic rights of the EU proclaimed in Nice in December 2000 states that “Conscious of its spiritual and moral heritage, the Union is based on the indivisible and universal values of human dignity, freedom, equality and solidarity…”

The culture under its various aspects as well philosophical, political, architectural, pictorial or ethical constitutes this spiritual and moral heritage ; the word heritage being preferable with that of heritage which would evoke the past too much whereas the heritage refers to the present ; that humanity has today. In this direction the culture constitutes as well as water or the air a collective good.

As for the spiritual adjective, it includes the monk without however explicitly mentioning it with this place and it to respect the laic tradition several Member States

The asked question here, under the only angle of the conservation of the culture, consists in knowing if the sufficient means are joined together to preserve this heritage, about the exact contents and the manner of preserving it ; heritage which if it had suddenly disappeared, would reduce almost to very policy food-growing nothing.

Preliminary question since the question of the culture is indissociable objects of this or of these cultures. If the mosque of Kerbala in Iraq had been destroyed by the coalition americano-British, this destruction of a high place of the Shiite worship would have raised legitimates it anger of the population concerned ; in the same way when a language disappears (several tens a year) it is a fragment of culture which crumbles ; when Bartok furrowed Hungary to record popular songs, the composer tried to save lapse of memory of the rhythms, melodies. It is one of the reasons to be UNESCO which to register with the world heritage such or such monument and if there is place to take measures which its safeguard imposes.

Question of the same order, i.e. question which engages the life of a culture, such or such European State must it return to the country of origin such obelisk which decorates the place of its capital, such fragment of temple which constitutes the major attraction of its museums ; in other words does one have to return to the country of origin works “flights” so that they return to revivify the culture of the country of origin ?

With some of these various questions which relate on the contents of culture to protect and to the means of reaching that point, of the brief replies were given for example to the European Parliament. An example among others, the resolution of the EP of January 16th, 2001 on heritage protection world, cultural and natural.

In this text the EP underlines how much the heritage is a key element of the identity of the companies and their evolution and how much it is important to protect this collective good in order to be able to transmit it. In this context the EP wishes also qu “with L” future UNESCO more opens the list of the sites and listed monuments because to date one notes a on-representation of the European sites (30 % of the classified sites are in Europe) and more still a on-representation of Christendom compared to the other religions, historical periods compared to the prehistoric periods without speaking of the preference given to elitist architecture on vernacular architecture. In addition to this assessment made on the contents of the protected heritage, the EP in connection with the conservation strictly speaking of the heritage, requires for example that the occupation of “restorer” be recognized and guaranteed in the EU, that the Member States cooperate more closely to fight against the illicit traffic of works of art (topical question following plunderings of the Muses perpetrated in Iraq recently). The EP also suggests that the architectural heritage is protected as well as the environment at the time of certain public or deprived projects. This relates to in particular the question raised recently in France with the modifications introduced into the law about the protection of the excavations and the stop of the building sites, subject which worries the archaeologists rightly. Being always the modes of heritage protection, the EP proposes in collaboration with UNESCO and the Council of Europe, the clarification of a judicial apparatus and tax international facilitating the forms of bearing patronage on the conservation of the cultural heritage and naturalness of the countries of the EU.

In connection with privatizations, a Member of the Commission of the culture of the parliamentary Parliament of the Council of Europe, Mrs. Melandri recently presented a draft recommendation relating to the inherent risks to the increasing privatization of the cultural goods for example in Central and Eastern Europe and recently in Italy. Among these risks, the draft recommendation quotes the sale of grounds whose archaeological wealth was not explored, the sale of art objects on the market without any “traceability” just as the insufficiency of the private insurance of the cultural goods. In conclusion the draft recommendation asks the Committee of the Ministers to conduct a comparative investigation into the degree of responsibility for the cultural heritage implied as well by the public as the private one as well as an analysis of the adequacy of existing Conventions on the matter vis-a-vis the phenomenon of privatization. (Draft recommendation presented by Mrs. Melandri and others on April 10th, 2003 Doc. 9788)

2. The free participation and access to the culture

The cultural heritage should not only be preserved but be able to live. In the absence of participation of the artists and the public in the culture that Ci blanches.

  • the free participation in the culture

The free participation in the culture supposes, condition first, freedom of expression out of any censure what is not always the case even in our companies open and democratic without speaking of climate of appalling intolerance which prevails in certain third countries (the case of the writer Salman Rushdie by ex)

Then it is necessary to ensure the diversity of the cultures as mentioned article 22 of the Charter of the basic rights ; to prevent that there are dominant and dominated cultures. From this point of view the respect of the cultural minorities and minority or regional languages is ensured by two Conventions of the Council of Europe the application of these conventions results in reports which mention for example existence or not of television programs, course, of road signs or of possibilities of using these minority languages in the relationships to the public authorities. These reports are the object of recommendations in the States left with Conventions. It is very regrettable that several States members of the EU did not ratify these Conventions yet (in particular France, Belgium).

Finally as for the respect of the religions and the convictions (sources of inspiration of the cultures) it matters that it is also guaranteed, but in the context of secularity, a secularity re-examined besides in the spirit for example of the report submitted in 2002 by Régis Debray, i.e. a secularity either of indifference but of intelligence with respect to the religious phenomenon, which should lead to the teaching of the religious history in secondary education.

  • the access to the culture

The culture should not be held with some and all discriminations must be fought in this field as on the economic plan and social (article 21 and following of the Charter)

Generally the abolition of the discriminations based on the race, the kind, the sexual orientation can only support one blooming and a cultural enrichment.

In addition the culture must be able to be accessible the most stripped to what implies a united effort of the company, effort which is still far from being accomplished if one thinks that even education minimum obligatory, preliminary to any access, any curiosity towards the culture is not ensured the children of the very poor families, of the refugees or the Roms communities for example (the rate of school absenteeism is higher than it is thought generally) Another example : why would the prisoners be they private of culture, one of the best means of psychological and social reintegration (unfortunately so seldom offered to means and attention) ?

It is measured the culture is a component of dignity and citizenship of the person to the full direction. But if it is important to guarantee this dimension of human dignity, the combat for is not gained as much because the culture on the world plan is today threatened to be “marchandized”.

3. The promotion of the free culture

The word promotion is with double direction : it applies to these publicity campaigns and commercial of sales of objects or services at low prices and unfortunately the culture is likely to fall to the hands from some economic méga-groups belonging to the world from the media. It is thus necessary to stigmatize this threat and to carry out a true economic strategy in favour of the free culture, a promotion of another type.

  • to resist the sales promotion of the culture

Without entering in detail of the multilateral trade negotiations, the conditions of production and exchange of the objects of culture appear in it. The defenders of the free trade call upon the fall of the costs, the indirect censure which the assistances and the fact would imply that the true talents would not need any….

But which does not see qu ` to regard the culture as simple goods one

risk uniformity, the loss of the identities, the screening of inventiveness short the substitution of the entertainment to the free culture

  • a European strategy “proactive”

Vis-a-vis the challenges, only a European strategy can save the culture of these serious threats and by doing this our European cultural identity and our particular identities.

Already the Commission set up several programs that one will make here only point out Raphael for heritage protection, Media for the cinema, ARIANE for the book (the defense of the only costs also) Television without borders (40 % in theory of European films ; relatively controlled publicity ; protection of the children) Capitals of the culture, but the European budget of the culture, 500 million euros approximately, is a half % is very limited.

To implement a European strategy of the culture, the EP estimates that it would be appropriate, also knowing that 7 million people works in this particularly inventive sector in Europe :

  • to increase the volume of the community budget (towards 1 %) and of the national budgets in this field
  • to grant wider tax incentives to the patronage
  • to make access to the culture a true right to the culture and to support the development of a European space of the culture as well as the situation of the artists (their to book workspaces in the derelict lands by ex as well as a statute for all comparable with that of the contract workers in France, statute even threatened to him).
  • to match sanctions the disrespect of certain standards (by ex quotas of European films)
  • to support the recent Universal declaration of UNESCO on cultural diversity aiming to the adoption of an International convention in this field


The culture or the cultures under all their forms constitutes the crucible where are forged the identities and in a great measurement the democracy. It is not surprising because the culture expresses the aesthetic and ethical values of each individual, groups, generation.

Consequently to ensure the conservation of the heritage, to guarantee the access of all to the culture but also to promote a free and inventive culture vis-a-vis the threats of “marketisation” are as many major stakes for us all and the SEC in particular. However, it is regrettable that Convention on the future of Europe did not bring anything from really nine in this matter. Indeed what can one read in the actual position of the constitution project if not which culture, education in article 15 of the project always appear according to the phraseology chosen among the “fields of action of support” where only actions of coordination, complement, support between the Member States are conducted which keep – subsidiarity prevailing it upper hand on the contents and the extent or the reverse of the cultural policies. The unanimity continues to prevail in this field in other words the risk of opposition to progress vis-a-vis boldness without complex of the merchants of culture to the discount. From where to conclude the role from an association as ours it is hardly of many which either present in each one of our countries when there is debate and on the European level to defend the food-growing policy without which there is no dignity of the man and possible dialogue between the human ones.

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