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Last Updated: Friday, 2 March 2007, 10:17 GMT
Germany seeks joint history book
By Alix Kroeger
BBC News, Brussels

European flags in Strasbourg
History is often a divisive topic among Europeans
The German Education Minister, Annette Schavan, is to raise the possibility of creating a common European history book for use in schools across the EU.

The idea is being discussed on the margins of a meeting of EU education ministers in Heidelberg, Germany.

Germany currently holds the EU presidency.

A common history book is already being used in French and German schools. Each chapter is written by two historians, one French, one German.

The idea is that pupils across Europe would learn about events and their causes from all sides - not just their own country's version.

But in practice, it is almost bound to be controversial. There are no details yet about the possible content or the authors.

The Franco-German book in use in schools for the first time this year covers European history since 1945. It gives both countries' points of view and is used in the final years of secondary school.

Germany has traditionally viewed the EU as a peace project, a bulwark against the kinds of wars that devastated the continent before 1945.

A spokesman for the German EU presidency pointed out that the proposed book would be a history of Europe, not of the European Union.

But getting anything onto the printed page will be nightmarishly complicated. The EU has very limited powers in the field of education; the final say rests with national governments.

Moreover, there is no getting away from the fact that precisely because the idea comes from Germany, other countries are likely to have their reservations.

The historian Dr David Starkey told the BBC that what made Europe exciting was its differences, even though these had contributed to conflict, and the proposed book would seek to brush those differences away.

Franco-German textbook launched
05 May 06 |  Europe

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