The Values of Europe: family, work, society, politics and religion

Vista —

The roles of men and women have changed, with women in most European countries enjoying broadly the same educational and employment opportunities as men. Have these changes in family composition and roles resulted in a dramatic change of values? Yes and no.

History – combining elements of Antiquity, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, the Renaissance and the Enlightenment – has created an array of indisputable values, to which the European Union pays lip service, but which it often regards simply as pretty packaging for the things that really matter. But aren’t these values what really matter, and are not they, on the contrary, what give direction to all the rest?”

Vaclav Havel, European Parliament, 2009

The importance of the place of values in Europe continues to be a matter of furious debate, as evidenced by this quote from the recently deceased former Czech President, Vaclav Havel. Are there any values which might be described as characteristically European? Or is Europe so culturally diverse, that any talk of common values is to fly in the face of nationalisms and regionalisms which define their identities over and against Europe?


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