In order to speak about cultural and educational rights and, in turn, regional and local administration in Europe, it is necessary to take into account an extensive and often imprecise sphere. This is why it is necessary to deal with the issue step by step.
On the one hand, when discussing cultural rights, the first questions that should be asked, which is what the speaker, Antoine Leonetti, did, are: What are cultural rights? How should we define them? And what is the right to culture? First, and as expert Jean-Marie Pontier cleverly observed, it is impossible to enumerate cultural rights. Also, whilst some experts, such as the speaker, Antoine Leonetti, believe that the right to culture can not be subject to legal claim, other experts, such as Jesús Prieto de Pedro, believe that there is a need for an effort in terms of the technical-legal construction of certain terms (‘cultural rights’ and ‘the right to culture’) that are imprecise and unarticulated, somewhat hazy and hard to use correctly.
As to educational rights, their conception and field of activity are better defined, according to the specific conception of the various states, regions or collectives. Marina Subirats gave the example of the model of educational rights at Barcelona’s city council. The model is based on the right to free education and equal conditions for everybody.
What role should be played by regional and local administrations with regard to cultural and educational rights? According to Antoine Leonetti, there are different points to bear in mind: first of all, the administration should separate cultural management from educational management, as these are two different fields that should not be combined; secondly, the authority should be protected from the policy according to the Anglo-Saxon model of ‘management principles at arm’s length’; in other words, the involvement of political power in administrative management, although this implies certain economic deficits (another model to be followed here is the ‘Culture and Arts Concert’, which is being prepared by Barcelona’s city council and it to be presented in 2005); and, finally, the authority should avoid excessive centralisation, an idea shared by expert Artashes Gazaryan, who asserted that one can not talk about human rights without self-government, since this is the only way of guaranteeing and exercising such rights. Artashes Gazaryan added to these ideas by emphasising the need for a specific legal framework for the management of these rights and the commitment and awareness of local civil servants.
As asserted by expert Jean-Marie Pontier with regard to this situation of the promotion of cultural and educational rights, the authorities should overcome the apparent contradiction that they exercise, abusing some of these principles through their activities. One should not forget some of the problems that the authorities need to deal with, highlighted by expert Zoltan Szente: first of all, the difficulty in understanding the problems, as a result of their vague and nebulous content; secondly, the size of the authorities; and, finally, the quality of the cultural and educational public services offered.
There is also a situation that is of particular concern and regards the cultural and educational rights of certain groups (also known as minorities, although, as experts such as Ulrich Bohner noted, the use of this term would not be appropriate), such as gypsies, prisoners and immigrants.