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Europe

Is Switzerland a Model for Europe?

In conversation with DW-WORLD, Swiss author Adolf Muschg, German Academy of Arts president, explains why the EU makes sense, what can be made of the referendums and why the politicians don't want to do what they could.

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What can Europe learn from Switzerland?

DW-WORLD: The EU constitution is on the back burner, the financial dispute continues to rage, and whether Tony Blair can solve the crisis in his guise as the next president of the European Council remains very much to be seen. Does Europe have a future?

Adolf Muschg: What we get from Europe is the experience of the boundaries of national politics. The current problems are bigger than the chances of any political government to resolve them.

Europe is not the only answer to globalization, but it is one which can be used to restrict the problems and seen as a means of learning to behave in a cooperative way. Learning from each other has to be a top cross-border priority in Europe. We have an amazing selection of national traditions which can be tested for collective application on a larger scale.

So does that mean that Europe is not having a general crisis of meaning and structure, but has simply arrived at a crossroads?

Adolf Muschg eröffnet das Schillerjahr in der Akademie der Künste

Swiss author, Adolf Muschg

Yes, and that is why I like to call it a cultural project. Europe cannot be defined in economic terms; that is in fact part of the problem it claims to address. When it comes to defining Europe as a historical body, we have to proceed differently. What I mean is that what we call "culture," has to be recognized as a root again.

Switzerland is often held up as a model of somehwhere that different cultures, languages and religions can peacefully co-exist. What should Europe learn from Switzerland?

I certainly wouldn't suggest using Switzerland as a model for Europe. A closer look at Switzerland reveals a less dazzling picture. The coherence was much greater during the two world wars, when Switzerland stood with its back to the rest of the world, trying to keep that back free.

The principle of almost automatically granting minorities a greater presence in representative bodies or giving communities much greater autonomy than they enjoy in Germany, make for domestic competition. And there's not even much need for patriotism.

Should the politicians let "the people" have their say? And why is Switzerland so popular in Europe without even being in the EU? Continue reading here.

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