20th Mar 2018

Charter of Fundamental Rights to be re-written as 80-minute-long epic poem

  • The agency is also planning to recraft the charter in the language of children (Photo: unicefiran)

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) wants the EU's human rights charter recast as an 80-minute-long epic poem, accompanied by music, dance and "multi-media elements."

"The FRA intends to launch a negotiated procedure for the creation and implementation of an artistic concept for the presentation of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights in Poems," reads the agency tender issued this month.

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The Vienna-based agency has opened a process of contracting a poet to devise a composition based on the articles of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and hire a company of performers to accompany a presentation of the poem with music, a dance interpretation of the piece and "multimedia elements", as well as what the tender refers to as "etc."

The inaugural reading of the poem, whose working title is ‘The Charter in Poems', is to take place at the bloc's 2010 Fundamental Rights Conference on 7 December.

In a move that is likely to provoke the ire of francophones, already smarting from what they view as the galloping advance of the English language within the EU institutions and European communication with citizens at the expense of French, the tender required that poem be composed in the language of Shakespeare as English is, according to the tender document, the "literary language".

However, "the performance itself need not be limited to just English, and indeed is encouraged to include other official languages of the EU."

Friso Roscam-Abbing, spokesman for the FRA, told EUobserver that the poetic re-visioning of the charter aims to make the "dry, legal language of the charter, which is very inaccessible, more relevant to European citizens."

"We hope to raise the visibility of the charter via a nice, literary manifestation of the document in a way that brings the charter to life."

"We are also in the process of developing a children's competition, putting it into children's words to express what the legal language means to them."

Mr Roscam-Abbing said that the requirement that the poem be written in English was "a mistake in the tender announcement."

"It will be put out in all three of the working languages of the EU: English, French, and German, plus Dutch."

Five bidders have responded to the tender. Mr Abbing said he could not reveal from which member states the poets hailed.

The author or authors of the Charter in Poems must also transfer all intellectual property rights and publishing rights to the Fundamental Rights Agency.

Although the tender has now closed, poets may still contact the agency to be involved, according to Mr Roscam-Abbing.

The development comes as European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, a poet in his spare time himself, announced this week he is to publish in April an anthology of his three-line Japanese haiku poems.

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