Bringing Fraternity Back in Europe – Learning from Rawls

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    • Presentation speakers
      • Marta Nunes da Costa, Visiting Professor, Philosophy Department, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil


    The project of the European Union was a result of a set of very clear commitments to political and social ideals: on the one hand, embracing democracy as chosen and preferable political model, as way of guarantying peace among states; on the other hand, endorsing the liberal modern vision of fundamental individual rights. The Charter of the European Union (2000) rests upon an articulation of liberal and republican elements, i.e., it is built upon a discourse of individual rights, while assuming shared values, which are the ground for the construction of the European community. This European project must rely on the interdependence between the ideals of liberty, equality, but also, the ideal of fraternity, which appears as ‘solidarity’, insofar the creation of a community must encompass economic, social, political and cultural dimensions. However, despite the European discourse, which embraces the trilogy of liberty, equality and fraternity, European practices tell us otherwise – the ideal of fraternity is often neglected and forgotten and generally considered as ‘utopian’ and inefficient concept. In this paper I want to argue that if we want to rescue the European project we must activate and translate into practices the articulation between these three ideals, having as larger background a strong conception of justice, which cannot be defined in a strictly legalist manner. In order to do so, I will start by presenting Rawls’ account of the importance of the ideal of fraternity, an ideal which is the necessary (even if not sufficient) condition for the consolidation of a democratic project. I will then move to a critical analysis of current European state-of-affairs that suspend the fraternity ideal, therefore putting in check the success of the European project. Finally, I will reflect upon recent challenges Europe faces today and look for its possible (re)solutions.