12 February 2010

Relations of the Union and the member states 7 - Culture, education

The first topic of this post will be culture. This topic may be seen inappropriate in a federal constitution of Europe. I have written something of this kind in the post about the constitution's preamble: the federation should preserve cultural diversity, it is one of main features of federal arrangement. An opinion about an inappropriateness of federal care of culture seems to be verified by looking into the federal constitution of the USA where no mention about culture is present. But if we open the federal constitution of Switzerland, the second great pattern for European federalism, we will find some provisions about culture there. So it is not absurd to deal with culture also in a European federal constitution.

It is obvious that the duty of a state – either federal or unitary – is not to create culture. The duty of the state is to support culture – to establish schools of arts, cultural institutions, to support artists financially or otherwise. This is however a work of individual member states and so it seems that no duty in sphere of culture remains for a European federation. Despite that, there are some. The first of them is to support mutual cultural rapprochement and exchange of European states. In a federation, its member states cannot take each other for foreign; consequently it is not possible that their citizens regard culture of other member states as foreign. It is therefore necessary that the federation supports cultural rapprochement among its member states – this is a duty that the federation can manage better than the member states alone. It will depend on the future federation which way it will do this cultural rapprochement, I suppose however that the federal European constitution should give a competence to the union for accomplishing the duty – to establish and to run federation-wide media. This is also essential not only for cultural exchange but in order to the European federation becomes one society, one community and society which is necessary for preserving unity of the union. Lack of existence of Europe-wide media is evident and reminded (see for example http://speakup-europe.blogactiv.eu/2008/03/12/pan-european-mass-media/). The federation-wide media are very good means for cultural exchange among the member states; in spite of that, it is not all duty for the federation in cultural sphere, there is also other way how the federation can support culture. To support cultural communication of the European states (the federation members) is important, equally important however is also to support spreading European culture in the world. And it will be done again better by the European federation than by its individual member states, though we cannot forget that they should have the power to act in this sphereee outside the union (see the previous post Foreign policy) - so culture will be then a shared competence between the federation and its member states when promoted outside the union. In any case, the European federation will not interfere in cultural independence of its member states.

Also the second topic of this post is a bit related to culture – science. In principle, the scientific research should be a matter of the member states because communities of scientists are important part of their cultural and social environments. But there are branches, especially in natural sciences, that require means (financial resources) of more than one or a couple of the member states (an existing example is CERN). In these cases, when powers of individual member states will not be sufficient, the federation will assert its competence; it should not however be based only on supporting scientific projects and institutions established in cooperation of the member states but also on establishing its own scientific institutions and running them. In connection with it, another competence of the union should be included in the federal constitution which can be seen as interference in sphere of competencies of the member states – a competence concerning system of education. Education will be wholly in power of the member states and will not be mentioned therefore in the federal constitution; but with an exemption. Many scientists work in universities (tertiary schools) so universities (tertiary schools) are often important scientific institutes. Nowadays (and it will be valid also in the future), economy is strongly connected with scientific results and therefore the federation, in interest of own economy development, has to support development of science which is impossible without education of new scientists. But because educational system in general will be out of reach of the European federation, it must have at least the power to establish its own tertiary schools (colleges). There is written in the constitution of Switzerland that the federation has a right to establish technical colleges and it can be expected that the European federation will found especially schools of this kind. Also a right to run established colleges and to define contents of teaching in them belongs to the right to establish them. But there are also educational branches that cannot be realized in schools of the member states – above all the military and diplomatic education because either foreign policy and military will be business of the federation; and just the federation has to run also corresponding schools. If tertiary schools founded by the federation will become prestigious institutes, they will become examples for tertiary schools in the member states and an indirect way how the federation can affect standards of tertiary education in the union. It is also not unsuitable for the European federation what is written in Swiss constitution, namely that the (Swiss) union and its member state coordinate their effort to guarantee quality of tertiary education.

In connection with pan-European mass media, it is necessary that one more competence is given to the federation – a competence that results partially from the provision about the mass media: if there should be electronic media with pan-European extent established and run by the European federation, the federation has to have a competence over broadcasting space in the territory of the union. If a right to decide about broadcasting frequencies in broadcasting space would be in power of the member states, the electronic media established and run by the federation would be dependent on responsibility and arbitrariness of the member states. But the right of the federation to allocate broadcasting frequencies follows also that what I did not mention before, the right of the federation to establish and manage a federal army because forces of a uniform federal army need uniform understanding all over the union's territory. Not only existence of pan-federal media is therefore a reason why the broadcasting space of the federation ought to be transferred to the power of the European federation.

The concrete wording of this part of the constitution's proposition will be stated later after I had discussed all competencies of the union.