“Who is assuming responsibility for Europe ?”

Ferdinand Richard

Ferdinand Richard

Seen from a very local and peripherical situation (north suburbs of Marseille/South France, as far from the decision making centers as Aberdeen can be …), being a basic social and cultural ground operator fighting desperately against brain-drain, radicalism, society dismantling, xenophobia and europhobia, I consider that one of the main threats to the European dream is the obviously growing disequilibrium between peripheries and centers, and north and south Europe.

Do we want Europe to be a competition field for “Golden Triangles” (such as Paris/Amsterdam/Berlin), reducing all other more peripherical regions/cities/communities to be reserves for “raw ressources”, would they be intellectual or natural ? Do we accept that Europe will be an arena reserved to the sole competition of nations ? Do we consider the ability to create and imagine to be restricted to the north of Europe, while the south would be dedicated to mass tourism and amusement parks ?

‘Brain drain’ is affecting communities

In Europe today these Golden Triangles can be considered as the most powerful social magnets one could imagine. They drag money, investment, global companies headquarters, monopolistic medias, big cultural institutions, fame, and above all young fresh brains.

By hundreds, these young talents run away from their home regions, not only from Greece, Portugal and Spain, where it is tragically obvious, but also from south-France or south-Italy, east-Germany, north-Sweden, Lapland, Baltic regions, central european provinces, etc …

Because of this brain-drain, although they have invested heavily on the education of these creative young talents (schools, colleges, teachers, etc … plus all related services), communities loose massively the pay-back of their precious investments, at least on five levels:

  • they will not get the taxes which would be payed by these future entrepreneurs if they were staying at home
  • they will not get the additional high-graded jobs that these young entrepreneurs usually create (tourism creates service jobs, not creative jobs)
  • they will not set up a full range of clustered local creative industries, allowing them to be active, visible and independant on the global scene.
  • they will not be branded “creative” (which is something else than being branded “touristic” or “heritage”)
  • and above all they will suffer huge frustrations from the ones who cannot succeed to flee, generating violence, radicalism, anti-social behaviours, huge rate of political abstention (which in most cases is exactly parrallel to the unemployement rate), etc…, not to stress a very unfair even bigger disequilibrium which is the one affecting young graduated issued from immigrated families.

These are the signs of an apauling management, of the absence of sustainability planning, of a non-integrated vertical approach, and above all it represents a huge waste of (their but also EU) money, and if one really wants to find the reasons of a growing europhobia (or at least scepticism) amongst the youth, don’t look further. Yes, we regret deeply the Brexit, but all this has probably contributed to it.

This has not very much to see with traditional left/right political positionning, but more with centralism and nationalism, therefore you can find extreme right and extreme left on the same side of the fence. As in the good old Thirties, national populism is not blue or red. It has the same colour everywhere: brown.

This former generation post-colonial centralistic attitude is totally opposed to the inevitable new generations peer-to-peer communication and trade, as internet is prodigiously and fastly allowing it, and therefore it is condamned to failure.

Europe needs a reduction of nation states

It has also an incidence on the way Europe will deal with international/global matters. During my last travel to the US of America, I was stroke by the fact that Politics there seemed quite old-fashioned, and that, in opposition, weither we like it or not, the construction of Europe forced the old countries of our continent to be politicaly innovative. It is indeed an asset, but it is also a responsability.

On the global scene, Europe is not only there to help French or German car manufacturers concluding commercial contracts with Iran or China, but its pride and duty is also to help the international community to escape a future world where the power would be concentrated in a very few (old) hands, where discrimination will be considered a tool for governance.

Therefore it has to build the model.

Today’s political situation in Europe forces us to remember that the ultimate goal of the european project requires an acceptable level of federalism, a consistent reduction of the Nation-States “domaines reservés” (Culture, Defense/Intelligence, Social Integration policies, Healthcare and Education), and certainly a complete revision of the European political power decision-making process.

I am naive enough to believe that, in terms of dialogue, beyond the ashes of the World War 2, the ultimate expectation of the founders of Europe was the fruitful percolation of its cultural diversity, the dialogue of governers being only one of the paths to it, amongst others, and certainly not a finality.

Who will be courageous enough to move a step forward ? The wave is pushing …

Ferdinand Richard


Ferdinand Richard is the founder/director of A.M.I. association based in Marseille, a founding member of La Friche Belle-de-Mai/Marseille since 1992, and has been its deputy-director for 8 years. From 2007 to 2010 he worked as the president of the national Commission for Culture of the Green party of France. Since 2009, he is the president of The Roberto Cimetta Fund, dedicated to artists and cultural activists mobility in the Euro-Arab-Middle East relationship. Since January 2016, he is member of the governance of the Institut du Monde Arabe in the Region Hauts-de-France (Tourcoing/France). With regard to the European level,he is a collaborator/expert of the “Agenda 21 Culture” initiated by UCLG (United Cities and Local Governments), global network of local authorities since 2006.