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Voices for the Res Publica: The Common Good in Europe

Overview

Welcome to the website of "Voices for the Res Publica: The Common Good in Europe'. Funded by the Ford Foundation and housed within jPR, this three year project examines the loss of a sense of the common good in European democracies, the consequent erosion of feelings of shared belongings, and the emergency of new types of tribalism. This site includes reports and commissioned papers produced between 2006 and 2009.

Promoting the Common Good in Europe: A statement

We are a group of independent voices from six European countries, who believe there is a pressing need to restore a sense of the common good and shared belonging in our pluralist democracies in Europe. We believe that the upsurge of xenophobia, racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia and intolerance in recent years has caused the weakening of the post-World War II ideal of reconciliation, integration and open borders.

We come from varied national, ethnic, religious and professional backgrounds. There are among us Christians, Jews, Muslims and people of no religion; judges, lawyers, academics, writers, journalists, political and social activists living in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom. What brings us together is the desire to restore a shared sense of the ‘common good’ beyond our own variety of identities and cultures. We represent no political party but, after three years of frank discussions in six European countries, we feel compelled to express our concerns at this crucial time in Europe’s history. We have chosen the Latin term ‘res publica’ to convey the notion of the common good in Europe and the pressing need to renew the parameters of democratic life by respecting identities while also transcending them.

We believe it is time to overcome the divisions that have dominated public discourse on issues of identity and belonging, minority and majority rights, values and culture, status and class, religious freedom and secularism. We have found that by focusing our discussions on the common good, we have been able to create a context in which diverse perspectives can come together.

We share a concern that major issues facing our societies are being increasingly deferred to the realm of law. We believe there is an imbalance in the relationship between the legislature, government and civil society. We call for initiatives that would bring a closer involvement of civil society in the realm of government as a way of re–invigorating public life. We are concerned about the large gap between the civil and the civic realm (that of formal, professionalized politics).

We believe that serious European renewal can only take place by restoring the centrality of political action and representation. At the local, national, and European levels, the concept of a common good must become the guiding spirit for our societies so that our diverse populations will feel respected and represented.

Introduction

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Round table reports

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Commissioned papers

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List of round table participants

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