The debate on European values and the case of cultural diversity
‘Values’ have become a topic of discussion at the European level. This article tries to briefly track the reasons for this phenomenon as well as to detangle the foggy notion of ‘values’ in this context. The author differentiates between founding values, European ideas and common legal principles. All these different forms of European values differ in their respective legal and political character. Most importantly, they require a different level of European conformity. Special emphasis is given to the value of cultural diversity which can be considered, at most, a ‘self-restrictive’ value since it can be perceived from an inclusive perspective (including diversity within the states) or from an exclusive perspective (diversity amongst the states). Placing too much emphasis on the inclusive reading endangers the exclusive reading, and vice versa. In this context, the author refers to the new constitutional motto of the European Union as proposed by the constitutional treaty. Unlike the situation in Indonesia and South Africa (which both use the same motto) it does not seem to address subnational diversity. Instead, “united in diversity” aims at protecting national identities against excessive integration,and thus seems the very opposite of the US constitutional motto of “E pluribus unum”.