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A good European is neoliberal

Flexible, competitive, well-educated, multilingual, continual learners, and employable. These neo-liberal values characterize the good European, according to a recent political science perusal of the documents published by the EU Commissioners.

Since its inception, the European Community, now the European Union, has attempted to identify the qualities that characterize a European. Preference of democratic ideals and human rights are among these qualities.

In recent years, a good EU citizen has been described as a person who is geographically and professionally flexible, open for continuing education, and competitively motivated. In a new doctoral thesis, Jonna Johansson identifies these qualities as neo-liberal, sprung from the needs of the global marketplace.

She says, "The line of reasoning is that Europe cannot compete with cheap labor. So we must compete with a knowledge society, knowledge-based economy and life-long learning."

The Lisbon Strategy was adopted in 2001, with the goal of making the EU the world's most competitive economy. This involved a redirection of goals and objectives," says Jonna Johansson.

"The Lisbon Strategy toned down the social dimension of the EU. The welfare system was dismantled. Individual accountability was the new watchword.

"There was one exception: the sphere of higher education. The universities were assigned a more dominant role to achieve the ideals of life-long learning, professional flexibility, and high levels of education. Public funds to the universities were not cut back, but schools were assigned new political mandates. They were no longer expected to be conventional education providers, the goal was to create knowledge for a competitive marketplace. The universities' internal relations were to be adapted to a market philosophy. They would operate increasingly like a commercial enterprise.”


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Last updated: 2009-06-03