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L´Osservatore Romano: Msgr. Ambrosio on COMECE document
"Market freedom must be linked to tools that step up the commitment for solidarity and social equality", said Msgr. Gianni Ambrosio, bishop of Piacenza-Bobbio, Italian Bishops’ Conference delegate at the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE). Commenting on "L’Osservatore Romano" of January 18 the document "A Community of Solidarity and Responsibility" dedicated to social market economy, presented in Brussels on January 12 by card. Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and Freising, COMECE vice-president, Msgr. Ambrosio re-launched the bishops’ invitation to European Union bishops "to take social market economy seriously".
"False" neutrality. COMECE bishops, explained the Italian delegate, refer to social market economy since -regardless of the different approaches and achievements - "it contributed and continues to provide its substantial contribution to the evolution of economic theory. Indeed, the task of the State isn’t only that of a ’night guardian’, typical of laisser-faire forms of liberalism", but that of "a State capable of countering the assault on market performance by monopoly systems and "rent hunters’". Before the "agnosticism of institutions", which tends to rule out "ethics as the underlying principle of economic and financial exchanges of social life as a whole", Msgr. Ambrosio claims that these very institutions, "notably the State", cannot remain neutral when addressing different forms of social and economic life and before the various lifestyles". According to the prelate, "the crisis we are living today" demands "a rethinking and the overcoming of that idea underlying neutrality, according to which rights are to be understood primarily as individual rights".
Social market economy. Referring to COMECE’s invitation to the EU, "to promote a competitive and dynamic market, fine-tuned also to the financial system, stepping up responsibility, generosity and solidarity within societies", Msgr. Ambrosio cautions: "it is necessary to promote market freedom eliminating closures and squandering: only a competitive economy can enable progress for development, debt reduction, and Welfare financing". Social protection - warns the prelate - "must be ensured by public bodies and by the State as a whole. Economic freedom, solidarity and responsibility aren’t only the features of the ’social philosophy’ of the European Union. They characterize the legislative indications contained", albeit in different forms, in the Treaties of Rome and Lisbon. Notably, in the latter (2010) for the first time it is affirmed that the European Union aims at being a social market economy".
Competitiveness and solidarity. Msgr. Ambrosio thus mentions "the exemplary case of Germany", where the theory of social market economy applied in the post-war years by the minister of Economy Ludwig Erhart during Adenauer’s chancellorship, "placed the foundations of the ’economic miracle’ of the Federal Republic of Germany", today "the world’s most solid and strong economy". Before "non-governed globalization" and the current crisis, the bishop continues, the EU "should provide momentum to competitiveness" without "renouncing the ’common market’, thus preventing its gradual fragmentation". If not, he warns, "the ’social realm’ would be even more precarious. Instead the ’solidarity’ must come into play as a basic need of European society, not only by single States but by the European Union itself". "Only by promoting initiative, responsibility, cooperation between people and social groups is it possible to fulfill the right to education, security, health and environmental protection".
A "capital" of confidence. This, underlines Msgr. Ambrosio, "is the challenge that lies ahead of Europe": an "open and internationalized economy" where enterprises compete with one another and where "dominating and monopolistic positions are forbidden". Guarding against "an economy merely focused on profit" or excessively dependent on public aid, the prelate recalls that "social market economy is in line with certain fundamental principles of the social doctrine of the Church", and must maintain the human person at its centre. A "Christian-humanistic" understanding implemented in "the division of powers, federalism, independent yet cooperative spheres at national level" and "in the enhancement of intermediate realms". The family, the community and social networks, "the importance of bestowal, self-giving and voluntary service", indispensable energy "which nourish moral sensitivity, creating a confidence capital".