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Rights and Values in an Expanding Euripe: A Mutual Enrichment through Different Traditions
One of the crucial questions, which emerges in the process of the EU expansion is “How to avoid the alienation of the values and rights from the vivid culture of the European nations?” No doubt, they should not be limited to formal principles of communication. The point is to determine what should be done within the frame of politics, economy, education, healthcare, legislation, art, etc. in order to implement the principles of the European culture as guidelines for European citizens.
Discussing rights and values in the Enlarging EU, it is usually assumed that the new member states are going to adopt the standard of the current members or at least appreciate an ideal set of already existing exemplary items. It is a common place that values such as humanism, rationalism, social cooperation as well as various human and civic rights and freedoms need to be confirmed and improved among the countries accessing to the Union. However, it is worthwhile to ask if the approbated rights and values themselves will remain the same or should undergo a certain transformation. In its Contribution to the October Meeting of the Heads of State and Government entitled “European values in the globalised world”, the European Commission concludes: “Through modernisation, we will preserve our values” (25.10.2005). All kinds of transformation within the EU always presuppose keeping intact the values and rights. Is this the only productive position or some different approaches are possible too? Can the nations that have just entered the Union contribute to the common values and rights or the only thing they could do is to stick to the approved ones? Is there any chance a need for change in this field to arise after the EU expansion even though the traditional members and the new members share the same standard?
The International Symposium on Rights and Values in Expanding Europe (University of Sofia, June 3-4, 2006) addressed the above questions from an interdisciplinary and multinational angle. It was co-organized by the Italian Cultural Institute in Sofia, Goethe Institute Sofia, Austrian Science and Research Liaison Office Sofia, Institute for Axiological Research – Vienna, and University’s of Sofia Graduate Program in Philosophy Taught in English. Among the participants were scholars representing some long standing EU countries such as Italy, Germany (Professor Dr. Maurizio Bach’s, University of Passau, paper "The Enlargement Crisis of European Union: from Political Integration to Social Disintegration?" was presented at the Symposium but not submitted for inclusion into the proceedings), and Austria. A number of Bulgarian experts took part too. Prof. Dr. Mihail-Constantin Eremia from the University of Bucharest passed away just before the Symposium. We are publishing here the summary of his presentation.