European values are in crisis and we must weather uncertainties that lurk ubiquitously. However, the great European achievements are a result of surmounted value crises. In the course of the last few years, a poignant, fundamental question has arisen, causing widespread anxiety, tension and conflict: What are European values? Are they the presently prevalent European values, or those that defined the outlook and identity of Europe, to differentiate the continent from the rest of the world? Debates are undoubtedly ongoing, but a strategic debate is still necessary, including in Bulgaria, in order to avoid short-sighted political decisions and collective blind action, which could in time have unimaginable and horrific consequences.
The face of Europe is changing, because the constellation of European values is changing as well. There's a place for both alarm and new hopes. Reason, will, and confidence in the mission of Europe, which has proclaimed the human being as its supreme value, are required. Values can unite and divide, some lose relevance in the course of history, others gain it, adherence to certain values provokes latent and visible tensions and conflicts between people, social groups, communities and nations.
The EU's motto contains the secret of the Union's unlimited potential. In my opinion, values are the very nature of this secret. United in diversity is a fundamental European value. All will be lost if we allow this principle to fail. We Europeans have accumulated enough experience and we possess the resources to answer any challenge.
Bulgaria is among the first of 47 European countries to be included in the 5th wave of the European Values Study (EVS). It is expected that the study will be completed by the end of the year in the remaining countries. Given the fact that EVS is a transnational, longitudinal study (the survey is taken every 10 years), it won't be possible to perform a comparative and correlative analysis until the end of 2018. However, some initial interpretations of the data gathered in Bulgaria are possible. The sheer amount of empirical data allows profound and multidimensional analysis, since the research topics include the most fundamental societal aspects. Questions explore people's everyday lives, family, work, religion, politics, the social sphere, trust toward others and institutions, national and European identity, etc.
EVS is produced by Tilburg University and partners, using representative national adult population samples and face-to-face interviews. Since 2018 it is conducted in collaboration with the World Values Survey (a global NGO).
The European Values Study started in 1981, when a thousand citizens in the European Union Member States of that time were interviewed using standardized questionnaires. Every nine years, the survey is repeated in a variable number of countries. The fifth wave in 2018 covers no less than 47 European countries/regions, from Iceland to Georgia and from Portugal to Norway. In total, about 70,000 people in Europe are interviewed.
* Prof. Georgy Fotev, Professor Emeritus at NBU, EVS National Program Director
Alfa Research conducted the empirical study in Bulgaria between November 2017 and January 2018.